A joint operation by United Nations troops and the Congolese army (FARDC) took control of the main bases used by an armed group actively threatening security and stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s long-troubled eastern region.
FARDC troops backed by attack helicopters and the Force Intervention Brigade of the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) took control of bases used by the National Liberation Front, known by the French acronym FNL, in an area of restive South Kivu Province.
“The joint operation FARDC-MONUSCO against FNL is a strong signal for all armed groups, including the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda): the only way toward peace is through voluntary disarmament,” said MONUSCO chief, Martin Kobler.
His comments come as MONUSCO prepares to launch military operations against the FDLR, another armed group operating in eastern DRC, which missed a deadline for the unconditional surrender of its forces on 2 January.
They follow also a joint FARDC-MONUSCO attack against the rebel Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces in North Kivu and the arrest of Cobra Matata, leader of the Force de Résistance Patriotique de l’Ituri (FRPI) which took place over the weekend.
The FNL is a Burundian group that is deemed to pose an unacceptable threat to the security and stability in the eastern DRC and the joint offensive launched against the group was part of an operation initiated in late 2014 aiming to disarm armed groups operating in the Ruzizi plain and nearby areas.
The FNL’s neutralization is considered of paramount importance for MONUSCO and the FARDC to ensure civilian security in South Kivu.
“We are prepared to fight all armed groups and protect civilians,” said Major General Jean Baillaud, MONUSCO Force Commander ad interim. “This military success clearly shows FARDC and MONUSCO’s capacities to conduct joint actions and their common determination to neutralize all armed groups.”