At least 14 United Nations 'blue helmets' in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been killed and many more injured, in what the Secretary-General António Guterres described as the "worst attack" on UN peacekeepers in recent history.
Late Thursday, a MONUSCO (the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC) Company Operating Base at Semuliki in Beni territory, North Kivu, was attacked by suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) elements, resulting in a protracted fighting between the suspected armed group elements and MONUSCO and Armed Forces of the DRC, known by the French acronym, FARDC.
"These deliberate attacks against UN peacekeepers are unacceptable and constitute a war crime" said Secretary-General António Guterres, adding: "I condemn this attack unequivocally."
Further, calling on the DRC authorities to investigate the incident and swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice, the UN chief stressed: "There must be no impunity for such assaults, here or anywhere else."
In his remarks, he also said that the attack is another indication of the challenges faced by UN peacekeepers around the world and acknowledged the sacrifices made by troop contributing countries in the service of global peace.
"These brave women and men are putting their lives on the line every day across the world to serve peace and to protect civilians," he noted, offering condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed and a speedy recovery to those injured.
He also informed that military reinforcements, including the Force Commander from MONUSCO, have arrived on the scene and medical evacuation of casualties is ongoing.
The volatile North Kivu region, located in eastern DRC, has witnessed a number of attacks on UN peacekeeping forces. In October, two UN 'blue helmets' were killed and another 18 were injured their base was attacked by the ADF armed group.