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Tragedy in Congo as two Ugandan military helicopters crash, 22 feared dead

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A Democratic Republic of Congo army spokesman has confirmed that at least 22 people were killed when two Ugandan military helicopters crashed in the eastern part of the country on Wednesday afternoon.

“We can confirm the crash which happened early today. It involves two helicopters. We are talking about 22 dead for the time being.

“The Ugandan army have not yet told us the circumstances of the crashes,” the spokesman said without giving much details on the crashes.

The helicopters, according to the army spokesman, were sent by Uganda along with its troops to the central African neighbour in December to help fight a rebel group known as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

Meanwhile, Uganda’s army spokesman, Felix Kulayigye, confirmed one helicopter crash and said “there were fatalities, but I don’t have any extra details at the moment”.

A military officer in Congo said the first helicopter crashed over the village of Boga in Ituri province, while the second fell at the Kabarole border area between the two countries.

The officer said three Congolese soldiers died in the first crash, but did not specify whether they were in the helicopter or on the ground.

The ADF which began as an uprising in Uganda, has been based in Congo since the late 1990s with Uganda blaming the group for a triple suicide bombing in its capital Kampala on in November last, which killed seven people, including the bombers.

Metro

Rwanda accuses US of inflaming crisis in eastern DRC

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The government of Rwanda on Tuesday, accused the United States as well as the international community of ‘exacerbating and inflaming’ the crisis in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The accusation was made by the Foreign Affairs Ministry after the US urged Kigali to stop any support for the M23 rebels who have a base in a Rwandan territory.

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, had in a telephone call on Sunday to Rwandan President Paul Kagame, said “it was clear that all external support to non-state armed groups in the DRC must end, including Rwanda’s support for M23.”

But in a press release published on Tuesday, the Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vincent Biruta, affirmed that Paul Kagame and Anthony Blinken “had had good exchanges but that differences remain on the understanding of the problem.”

“The erroneous approach of the United States and the international community continues to exacerbate the problem in the east DRC.

“Rwanda’s security problems must be taken into account… M23 should not be equated with Rwanda,” Biruta said.

The crisis in eastern DRC between government forces and the M23 rebels which is made up of mainly Tutsi ethnic group, a predominant tribe in Rwanda, has continued to heighten tensions between the two neighbours with the DRC accusing Rwanda of supporting and encouraging the militia, accusations Kigali has always denies.

Rwanda on its part, has often blamed the crisis in eastern DRC on authorities in Kinshasa and accused the international community of turning a blind eye to DRC’s support for the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a rebel group made of Rwandan Hutus who were involved in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

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Somali forces, local vigilantes, recapture strategic town from Al-Shabaab terrorists

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The Somali National Army (SNA), alongside local vigilantes popularly called Mo’awisley, on Monday, recaptured the strategic city of Adan Yabaal from the al-Shabaab terrorist group, the military said in a bulletin on Tuesday.

According to the statement, the town located near the border between Hiran and Middle Shabelle regions that comprise Hirshabelle State, which is about 220 kilometres north of the capital Mogadishu, is one of the five federal member states of the Federal Government of Somalia, and had been a strategic location held by the al-Qaeda-sponsored extremist group.

The SNA said in the bulletin that it met no resistance from the al-Shabaab fighters who left the town without posing resistance on getting information about the approach of the federal troops.

Al-Shabaab have lost most of the towns and settlements in Hirshabelle State, both Hiran and Middle Shabelle regions, after the SNA and Mo’awisley vigilantes waged offensive wars.

“Mo’awisley vigilantes, who are mainly composed of nomadic herders, took up arms and rebelled against the jihadists’ confiscation of their livestock and illegal tax collection known as zakawaat.

“Over the last couple of weeks, the government forces and the vigilantes have been gradually inching towards the town which they seized on Monday. The town had been under the full control of al-Shabaab for over a decade,” the bulletin said.

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