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UN Helicopters Attacks in Congo

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Published on Jul 12, 2012

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Roger Meece, confirmed today (12 July) that UN attack helicopters had engaged "very actively and very robustly" against rebel forces in the eastern DRC.

Meece told reporters in Kinshasa that the use of the attack helicopters was "in the context of seeking to do all possible" to protect the civilian population against the advances of the M23 rebel faction.

He said the peacekeepers were seeking "information available from all sources" and working in close collaboration with the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) "to try to determine the actual intentions and movements of forces of the M23 and therefore to take the necessary and corrective measures in terms of whatever their intentions may be."

The Special Representative pointed out that "there have been numerous instances" in the past where the peacekeeping forces, "have used the combat helicopters as well as surface troops and armoured vehicles and other means" to protect the civilian population.

The rebel group, known as M23 and composed of renegade soldiers who mutinied in April, is reportedly led by Bosco Ntaganda, an army general wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of war crimes for recruiting and using children in combat in the DRC's north-east in 2002-2003.

Along with the neighbouring province of South Kivu in eastern DRC, North Kivu province has witnessed increased fighting between Government troops and the M23, which has displaced more than 100,000 people, including many who have fled to neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda.

In calls with the leaders of Rwanda and the DRC, the Secretary-General yesterday expressed grave concern over reports that the M23 is receiving external support.

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