BUNIA, 13 May 2005 (IRIN) - A UN peacekeeper was shot dead and six others were wounded on Thursday when an armed group ambushed a convoy carrying 40 UN Bangladeshi troops in the troubled northeastern district of Ituri in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a spokeswoman for the UN mission there, known as MONUC, said.
The spokeswoman, Rachel Eklou, said on Friday that three of the peacekeepers were wounded by gunfire and the others were injured when their armoured vehicle overturned during the ambush at Gethy, a locality controlled by the Front de Résistance Patriotique en Ituri (FRPI). Two of the wounded UN soldiers were flown to South Africa for medical care.
Gethy is 55 km southeast of Bunia, the main town in Ituri. Eklou said MONUC sent a MI-25 attack helicopter to the ambush scene 15 minutes later and opened fire on the armed group of about 20 men. Some 70 UN troop reinforcements were also sent to the area.
She said that two weeks ago, in the same area, MONUC intervened in support of Congolese army troops in a confrontation with former FRPI militiamen.
In a separate incident also on Thursday, local residents helped UN troops capture seven members of another group, the Union des patriots congolais, after an exchange of gunfire at the Iga Barrière area between Nizi and Largo, northeast of Bunia.
MONUC reported that such incidents were actions of the extremists trying to test the resolve of the army and UN troops. These fighters have declined to join a disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programme initiated in the district.