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Guterres, ‘outraged’ by UN shooting in Congo, demands accountability

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UN chief Antonio Guterres said Sunday he was “outraged” by a deadly incident involving UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo on the Uganda border and demanded “accountability.”

Guterres was “saddened and dismayed” to learn of the shooting earlier Sunday in the town of Kasindi by members of the peacekeeping unit, a UN statement said.

Two people died in the incident, a local civil society leader told AFP, and several others were injured.

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The UN force known as MONUSCO admitted that some of its peacekeepers, who were returning from leave in a so-far unidentified home country, had opened fire “for unexplained reasons.” It said arrests had been made.

The statement said Guterres expressed “his deepest condolences” to those affected and to the Congolese government.

“The secretary-general stresses in the strongest terms the need to establish accountability for these events,” Guterres' spokesperson said in the statement.

“He welcomes the decision of his special representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to detain the MONUSCO personnel involved in the incident and to immediately open an investigation.”

Video shared on social media showed men -- at least one in police uniform and another in army uniform -- advancing toward an immobilized UN convoy behind a closed barrier in Kasindi.

After a verbal exchange, the peacekeepers appeared to open fire before opening the barrier and driving through while people scattered.

An earlier statement from the UN mission in Kasindi said that “soldiers from the intervention brigade of the MONUSCO force returning from leave opened fire at the border post for unexplained reasons and forced their way through.”

“This serious incident caused loss of life and serious injuries.”

“The toll is two dead,” Joel Kitausa, a civil society leader in Kasindi, told AFP, adding that 14 people were injured.

A statement from MONUSCO denounced the “unspeakable and irresponsible behavior” of those involved, adding that “the perpetrators of the shooting have been identified and arrested pending the conclusions of the investigation which has already begun in collaboration with the Congolese authorities.”

It was not clear why the UN convoy was initially prevented from crossing.

More than 120 militias operate in the DRC's troubled east.

The UN first deployed an observer mission to the region in 1999. In 2010, it became MONUSCO -- the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo -- with a mandate to conduct offense operations.

There have been 230 fatalities among the force, according to the UN.

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