UNITED NATIONS — U.N. investigators are blaming the Allied Democratic Forces rebel group for carrying out the deadliest single assault on the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo in almost 25 years as well as two other attacks.
The main focus of their investigation was the Dec. 7 rebel attack at a base in Semuliki near Beni that killed 15 Tanzanian peacekeepers, wounded 43 others, and left one peacekeeper missing. Two earlier attacks on Tanzanian peacekeepers in nearby Mamundiona on Sept. 16 and Oct. 7 were also investigated.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Friday the special investigation concluded that all three attacks against U.N. peacekeepers “were carried out using a similar modus operandi and that all available evidence points to the ADF as the attacker.”
The ADF originated in Uganda as a rebel force against the government and carried out deadly bombings in the 1990s. A military campaign forced them to relocate to eastern Congo.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced the establishment of the investigative team on Jan. 5 which was led by former U.N. assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping Dmitry Titov.
Dujarric said the team found “a number of gaps in the training and posture” of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Congo and its rapid-reaction “Intervention Brigade.”
The investigators said the force didn’t have a contingency plan to extract peacekeepers during the attack and cited “obstacles” in the mission’s command-and-control and leadership as well as a lack of aviation, engineers and intelligence, according to Dujarric.
The investigators recommended that the force, U.N. headquarters and troop-contributing countries undertake efforts to make the Intervention Brigade “more robust, agile and better suited for offensive operations especially in remote and difficult terrains,” he said.
Dujarric said the investigators also urged “a reinforced engagement with regional political actors and stakeholders to better understand and tackle the threat posed by the ADF.”
Based on the findings, he said, the peacekeeping force has updated its plan to improve the security of peacekeepers and in addition has installed perimeter lighting and improved communications and security and several bases.
In late January, a U.N. report on the increase in peacekeepers killed in violent attacks blamed many of the fatalities on inaction in the field and “a deficit of leadership” from U.N. headquarters to remote locations. It urged greater initiative, determination, action and use of force when necessary.