Congo: 2 Indian peacekeepers from BSF killed in anti-UN protest
According to a spokesperson for the Border Security Force (BSF), two BSF personnel who were serving with the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) died on Tuesday during violent protests in the country. The soldiers were part of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the country.
- According to foreign media, at least five people have been killed and nearly 50 others have been injured on the second day of protests against the UN mission in Congo's eastern city of Goma.
- As per Indian officials, around two platoons, or approximately 70-74 BSF men, were stationed in the region and were recruited in May of this year.
"On July 26, two BSF personnel of the UN Peace Keeping Contingent (MONUSCO) deployed at Butembo, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, succumbed to fatal injuries during the violent armed protests," a BSF spokesperson reportedly stated. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar expressed deep sorrow over the deaths of the two Indian soldiers and demanded that the perpetrators be held responsible and brought to justice.
According to reports, locals issued a call for demonstrations and protests against MONUSCO throughout Congo, and the situation became violent in Goma (approximately 350 km from Beni, a major MONUSCO facility), with demonstrators plundering and torching UN property. The troops were put on high alert and Monday passed off calmly. However, the situation became violent on Tuesday, as per a senior officer.
Troops from the Congolese Police (PNC) and the Congolese Army (FARDC) arrived but were unable to control the crowd of over 500 people. Both Beni and Butembo districts (each with two BSF platoons) were on high alert. The BSF and other security forces used tear gas ammunition at Butembo to disperse the gathering, but the mob breached the surrounding wall at three points.
Demonstrators surrounded the Morroco Rapid Deployment Base camp, where BSF battalions are stationed. "The crowd was repelled, but they gathered again. There were reports that armed rebels had infiltrated the demonstrators," an officer reportedly stated. He stated there was sporadic firing which killed two Indian soldiers along with a Moroccan police officer. Foreign minister S. Jaishankar expressed his condolences to the soldiers' grieving families.
Jaishankar stated on Twitter, "Deeply grieved at the loss of lives of two valiant Indian peacekeepers of the BSF in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They were part of the MONUSCO." "The perpetrators of these outrageous attacks must be held accountable and brought to justice," he asserted. According to a senior officer, both of the slain bravehearts were head constables from Rajasthan.