The coincidence was a tragic one: At least 21 people were killed last week when the FDLR rebel group that has long plagued eastern Congo ambushed a cargo truck carrying various commercial items, including a valuable shipment of palm oil. The same day as the attack, a leading think tank published a new report concluding that joint military operations conducted by the Congolese and Rwandan armies – which have overtly targeted various rebel groups – are failing.
Details about the attack in a remote area called Nteya, about 60 miles away from the mining hub of Walikale, are scant. But Enough’s eastern Congo based researcher Fidel Bafilemba had this information to add:
According to one Walikale based civil society activist, the attack was carried out on a merchandise truck with 21 passengers, including the driver, aboard. The attack happened at around 5 p.m. on Tuesday, not far from a FARDC [Congolese army] position. The activist further indicated that the assailants, who summarily killed all the passengers and looted the truck, might have included Mai-Mai, in addition to FDLR.
The attack lasted about an hour and half, but neither MONUSCO nor FARDC troops came to help, the activist said. He added that the situation might prompt the local population to resent MONUSCO’s presence, or even push for the peacekeepers’ departure for failing to provide protection. In turn, this was likely the goal of the attack: to further the narrative of the ineffectiveness of the FARDC and MONUSCO, to the advantage of the FDLR.
Photo: Congolese soldier drives through Walikale (AP)