Two SA soldiers killed in DRC

Henry

Two South African soldiers were killed on Wednesday in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo after a mortar bomb hit a military base of the contingent.

These are the first recorded deaths since South African troops were deployed in December last year to help stop the insurgency in the area.

Three more soldiers were injured in this incident near the eastern city of Goma, where conflict has sharply increased again over the past few days.

“A mortar bomb hit one of the military bases of the South African contingent and injured the soldiers,” the South African National Defense Force said on Thursday.

“Two SANW soldiers died in the indirect fire, while three soldiers sustained injuries.”

The injured were taken to the nearest hospital in Goma, capital of the conflict-ridden North Kivu province.

In yet another incident, four people, including two members of the South African peacekeeping forces, were injured during two separate attacks earlier this month when more than 40 shots were fired at the SANW’s only deployable Oryx helicopter.

Information at this stage suggests that both attacks were carried out by suspected M23 rebels.

These troops were apparently part of a group that carried out a medical evacuation when they came under fire in the Karuba region of the North Kivu province. The Oryx was apparently on its way from Rwindi to Goma.

Armed groups have plagued much of the mineral-rich eastern DRC for three decades, a legacy of regional wars that flared up in the 1990s and 2000s.

The M23 group, which consists mainly of Tutsi, has conquered parts of the territory in North Kivu since taking up arms again in 2021 after years of inactivity. The region has been plagued by violence in the decades since regional wars in the 1990s.

The rebel campaign displaced more than one million people.

Conflict has increased sharply in recent days at the strategic town of Sake, which is located about 20 kilometers from Goma.

The DRC has repeatedly accused its smaller neighbor Rwanda of supporting the Tutsi-led M23 to gain control of the DRC’s rich mineral resources – a charge that country denies.

However, the US and several other Western countries, as well as independent UN experts, have indicated on several occasions that they agree with the DRC’s assessment.