UN peacekeepers, govt troops attack rebel groups in DRC
UN peacekeepers and government troops of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) launched an attack against rebel groups in the eastern region to pave the way for the country's upcoming June elections, said a UN special mission spokesman on Wednesday.
In the operation, which is aimed at creating a stable environment for the country's first elections in more than 40 years, UN peacekeepers and government troops fought on two fronts.
One was in the northeastern Ituri region, where about 500 blue-helmets (UN troops), and 2,500 government troops fought with an unknown number of militia, said the spokesman.
The UN and government troops used over 40 armored cars and several fighter and transport helicopters to fight the militia, who have used the region as a base for attacking and robbing civilians.
Another 300 Pakistani blue-helmets and 1,000 government troops fought with anti-government militia in the eastern province of Sud-kivu and set up outposts to keep Rwandan anti-government forces from spreading in the region.
The DRC, formerly Zaire, is rich in minerals but is still suffering from the effects of its last war, from 1998 to 2003, which left nearly 4 million people dead, mostly from disease and hunger.
The war officially ended in 2003, but bands of gunmen, who have refused to disarm, continue to terrorize civilians in large areas of the country, particularly in the lawless but mineral-rich eastern region. Enditem