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Military Capabilities

DRC attack highlights MONUSCO capability gaps

14 December 2017
The remote company operating base at the Semliki bridge on 27 November Source: © 2017 DigitalGlobe, Inc

More needs to be done to improve the UN Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (MONUSCO’s) intelligence and rapid reaction capabilities, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the UN’s under-secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, said in the wake of the most lethal attack on peacekeepers in recent history.

The 7 December attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC’s) North Kivu province resulted in the death of 14 Tanzanian soldiers serving with MONUSCO and was blamed on the Alliance of Democratic Forces (ADF), one of many armed groups that operates in North Kivu province.

“In the area we are talking about there is a quite a substantial presence of MONUSCO forces, particularly Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) forces,” Lacroix told a press conference a day after the attack. “We are having an impact on these groups, we are disturbing them and they do not like it.”

“Obviously there is more to do: we need to have a force that increases its ability to both detect and prevent these threats and also more capacity in terms of rapid reaction,” he added.

Ian Sinclair, director of the UN Operations and Crisis Centre, said the incident was the latest in a series of attacks targeting MONUSCO positions in recent months.

Two Tanzanian soldiers were killed and another 18 wounded on 9 October. A Tanzanian soldier was also killed on 17 September.

Sinclair identified the target of the 7 December attack as a remote company operating base that guards a bridge over the Semliki (Semuliki) river. “The reason this base is there is to seek to control this particular access, which is a major route into the Beni area that groups like the ADF use to pass supplies, men, and material, up and down,” he said.

“We have no confirmed information on the number of attackers as yet; however, it was clearly a major attack,” he added.

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