Congo: Kidnapped Peacekeepers and German Paratroopers

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Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

June 3, 2006: The seven Nepalese peacekeepers captured by rebels in Ituri have been freed. The UN says it did not pay ransom, but that the rebels gave into threats that rebel leaders would be held personally responsible if the peacekeepers were not released quickly.

June 2, 2006: The German government said that it would deploy up to 780 soldiers as part of a European Union force to help support Congo's July national elections. The EU force will be part of the UN peacekeeping force. The combined German-French force will be called EUFOR DR CONGO. The German force will include paratroopers. The paratroopers will be deployed to Gabon (which suggests they will be used as a contingency force or rapid response force). German medical, communications, and recon troops will deploy to Congo's capital, Kinshasha.

The UN still lists the seven Nepalese peacekeepers captured by a militia in Ituri as "missing." Apparently the militia is demanding $20,000 ransom for each of the soldiers. The UN refuses to pay, and threatens dire consequences if the peacekeepers are not freed.

At least 73 militiamen have died in fighting in Ituri province over the last week, along with 13 soldiers. The militiamen were killed in UN and Congolese Army (FARDC) operations. Two operations took place near the towns of Joo and Tchei (southwest Ituri). The other operation was in northern Ituri (Tsupu area).

May 31, 2006: The UN said that the militia holding UN troops as hostages must release them or "face the consequences."

May 28, 2006: A rogue militia (the Front for National Integration, or FNI) has captured seven Nepalese peacekeepers. The soldiers were part of an operation in Ituri province near the town of Tsupu. The operation was described as one intended to support the upcoming July national elections (which in Ituri means it was going after militias that have not turned in their arms). One Nepalese soldier was killed in a firefight (on the same operation) and three were wounded. The militia was identified as a group loyal to Peter Karim. The Nepalese soldier killed in action was the first UN loss since eight Guatemalans were killed in January 2006. The Guatemalans were part of an operation against elements of the Ugandan rebel group the Lord's Resistance Army. Seventy-four UN peacekeepers have been killed in the Congo since peacekeeping operations began in 1999.

 

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