Pakistani peacekeeper martyred in Congo rebel attack

UNITED NATIONS: A Pakistani peacekeeper deployed with the United Nations stabilisation mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was killed in an ambush, the UN said on Saturday.

At least one other peacekeeper was wounded following an attack by members of an armed group near Lulimba, 96 kilometres south-west of Baraka, in the DRC’s South Kivu province.

Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN, Dr Maleeha Lodhi, identified the martyred Pakistani trooper as Naik Naeem Raza. She also prayed for the recovery of the injured Pakistani soldier in a message on Twitter.

“One of our UN peacekeepers Naik Naeem Raza embraced shahadat today in Congo. May Allah rest his soul in peace And we pray that another of our soldiers who was injured fully recovers,” she tweeted.

“Pakistan’s peacekeepers will continue their efforts to uphold international peace and security,” she added.

Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the military’s media wing, said in a statement that Raza was killed when “the Pakistani peacekeeping convoy was ambushed by armed rebels near Lulimba, 96 kilometre south West of Baraka, South Kivu Province.”

The statement added that one other peacekeeper, Bilal, was injured in the attack.

“Pakistani peacekeepers effectively responded to fail the armed rebels,” the military’s statement added.

“Pakistan is a permanent contributor to global peace under UN flag. To date, 156 brave Pakistanis including 23 officers have sacrificed their lives for global peace and stability under UN auspices,” ISPR added. “As of today, over 6,000 Pakistani officers and men are performing their duties as part of UN peacekeeping assignments.”

A statement by the UN spokesman said Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned the incident and called on armed groups in DRC to lay down arms and seek to resolve their grievances peacefully.

“The secretary-general extends his heartfelt condolences to the family of the deceased and to the people and government of Pakistan,” said the UN statement, adding that Guterres wishes a speedy recovery to the injured and calls on those responsible for the attack to be brought to justice.

Pakistan is said to be the third largest contributor to United Nations’ peacekeeping missions around the world, after Ethiopia and India.

Pakistani troops are currently performing peacekeeping duties in Congo, Darfur, Haiti, Liberia, West Sahara, Central African Republic and Sudan.

In case of casualties on duty, the UN pays a package of $70,000 in compensation — directly remitted to the duly recognised beneficiaries of the deceased.

On Friday, Congolese President Joseph Kabila claimed the UN’s peacekeeping mission in the country, Monusco, had “eradicated” no armed group in nearly 20 years.

He warned the mission not to consider the country “under the care of the United Nations” and said he would “clarify in the coming days our relations” with the world body.

Monusco, the largest of the UN missions, has been present in the country since 1999.

Sprawling, mineral-rich but mired in poverty, DR Congo is in the grip of overlapping political and ethnic crises, and much of the country’s east is in the hands of rival militia groups competing over resources.

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