United Nations peacekeepers have killed eight civilians during an attack on their supply convoy in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a military governor said.
The troops were firing “warning shots”, which also wounded 28 people in the violence on Tuesday, the governor of North Kivu province said.
The UN convoy was returning from a resupply mission north of Goma, the provincial capital, when assailants set four trucks on fire, the UN mission in the country, Monusco, said on Wednesday.
The attack took place at Kanyaruchinya, where thousands of displaced people live.
Monusco had said three people died when the peacekeepers, accompanied by Congolese soldiers, “tried to protect the convoy”.
Lieutenant-General Constant Ndima, the governor’s spokesperson, said on Wednesday:
He said an investigation would be carried out.
Monusco did not respond to the AFP news agency’s request for comment.
READ | ‘Barbaric and cowardly killings’: UN peacekeepers find mass graves in eastern DRC
One of the largest and most expensive UN missions in the world, Monusco has been in the DRC since 1999 and fields about 16 000 peacekeepers.
Residents accuse it of failing to deal with the dozens of armed groups operating in the eastern DRC, including M23 rebels.
The group has seized chunks of territory since its resurgence in November 2021 despite a peace roadmap hammered out in Angola last July and the deployment of an East African Community force in November.
The DRC has accused Rwanda of supporting the M23, a charge corroborated by UN experts and Western countries, although Kigali has denied the accusations.
Al Jazeera’s Malcolm Webb, reporting from a camp for displaced people west of Goma, said thousands of people have arrived in the last few days, fleeing from advances by M23 fighting with government forces.
“This camp has at least doubled in size since we first came here a few days ago,” Webb said.
“[M23] has grown rapidly stronger since its operations resumed just over a year ago. That’s what’s brought it close to the town of Sake, just about 10km away.
“The new arrivals have told harrowing stories of events they say have happened within the last week, where M23 fighters, according to the testimonies of the people in the camp, have been rounding up civilians in the villages, killing some with machetes, shooting some dead,” Webb said.
Demonstrations against the peacekeepers have grown in recent months. In July, protesters stormed MONUSCO facilities in Goma, Butembo, Beni and other towns to demand the peacekeepers’ departure.
At least 36 people were killed, including four UN soldiers, according to authorities.
A South African peacekeeper was killed and another seriously wounded on Sunday when their helicopter was shot at in North Kivu.
Last March, eight peacekeepers were killed when their helicopter crashed near a battle between the Congolese army and the M23.
Militias have plagued the mineral-rich eastern DRC for decades, many of them a legacy of regional wars that flared during the 1990s and early 2000s.