Thursday, October 30, 2008

Uruguayan Soldiers Accused of Fleeing Congo Battlefield

Desperate Hutu civilians attack United Nations headquarters and peacekeepers
In recent days hundreds of thousands of citizens of the Hutu ethnic group have panicked due to the imminent capture of Goma, the main city in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Tsutsi forces led by General Laurent Nkunda have vowed to take Goma and the United Nations (UN) fears that most of its population of 600,000 will be massacred. After capturing Goma, the invading army may take the opportunity to get revenge on the 1994 genocide when the Hutu militia entered neighboring Rwanda and slaughtered 500,000 Tsutsis. The most serious incident involving United Nations personnel occurred on October 27 when hundreds of Uruguayan soldiers retreated from the front line at Kibati on their tanks, leaving thousands of helpless Hutu civilians to their fate. Thousands of Hutus then attacked the UN headquarters with stones and demanded that the Uruguayans protect them from the Tsutsi soldiers. Three civilians were killed as the peacekeepers dispersed the crowd. According to press reports the demonstrators were angered because the South Americans had not halted the Tsutsi advance with their modern weapons. General Nkunda has constantly repeated that his goal is not only to control Goma, but also to liberate the Democratic Republic of Congo from Hutu control. The eastern province of which Goma is the capital is rich in diamonds, gold and other valuable minerals.
Nkunda has also accused the Congolese Army of fighting alongside the Hutus against his forces. Nkunda is a former Congolese army officer that resigned after suspecting that his Tsutsi ethnic group would be attacked again as in 1994. The last reports state that Nkunda´s forces are only 12 miles from Goma and the UN provincial chief Hiroute Guebre Selassie has said that its 17,000 peacekeepers are in a disfavorable strategic position and are hard pressed to face the Tsutsis. According to Guebre Selassie, the peacekeepers have only been able to fire upon the invaders from helicopters due to the difficult terrain formed by mountainous land covered by tropical forests. The UN mission to Congo issued a statement in its webpage ( explaining that “ it is in the DRC to help restore peace, and called on the population not to take out its anger on UN personnel and property”.

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