GOMA, DR Congo, Jan 20, 2016 (AFP) – South African peacekeepers in restive eastern Democratic Republic of Congo responded “inadequately” to an ethnically-motivated attack by Hutu rebels in early January that left more than a dozen people dead, the head of the UN force said Wednesday.
“A slow response was noted that I, as head of the force, consider to be inadequate,” General Jean Baillaud told a press conference, referring to an attack in Miriki village, where peacekeepers stationed about one kilometre (mile) away failed to intervene.
The overnight attack January 6 to 7 blamed on Hutu rebels from Rwanda — grouped in the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda — was the latest assault on civilian members of the local Nande people, who are rivals of the local Hutu. It left 16 or 17 Nande people dead.
It recalled an incident in June 2014 that saw the UN peace mission in DR Congo — MONUSCO — forced to offer a public apology and admit some responsibility in the deaths of 32 people after an attack in Mutarule village where neither MONUSCO troops nor the DR Congo army intervened though they were alerted.
Baillaud, who is the interim commander of MONUSCO, said “we need to draw all the lessons, proceed with all the checks as to what happened.”