A United Nations helicopter came under fire in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday, a UN source said, the second such incident in a week.
“Two helicopters left on reconnaissance missions this morning … the pilots of one of the helicopters felt some impacts on the cockpit … and landed” to inspect the damage, a source close to Monusco, the UN peacekeeping mission in DR Congo, told AFP.
The incident took place some 15 kilometres (10 miles) north of Goma, capital of North Kivu province, which has been in turmoil since warfare ravaged the country from 1996 to 2003.
There were no injuries and the helicopter was able to return to base. Last week, Congolese M23 rebels shot at a UN helicopter but no one was injured. The M23 was founded by former Tutsi rebels who were incorporated into the Congolese army under a 2009 peace deal.
Complaining the deal was never fully implemented, they mutinied in April 2012, turning their guns on their former comrades and launching the latest rebellion to ravage DR Congo’s mineral-rich and conflict-prone east.
A spokesman for the rebels, Vianney Kazarama, denied that the M23 was behind the attack.
“This morning, the M23 did not fire and did not want to fire on Monusco,” said Kazarama, indicating that the shots came from the Congolese army (FARDC).
But Lieutenant-Colonel Olivier Hamuli, a spokesman for the army in North Kivu, hit back, saying: “Monoscu is a partner of the FARDC and we are together on the ground. It’s the M23 which shot,” said Hamuli.