UN denies 5 civilians killed in UN copter attack in DR Congo

The MONUSCO force carried out a helicopter-backed raid on rebels on Monday in the villages of Musanga and Minova in eastern DR Congo.

United Nations: The United Nations today rejected accusations from a governor in the Democratic Republic of Congo that five civilians had been killed in a UN helicopter attack against rebel fighters this week.

After conducting a fact-finding mission on the ground and visiting a hospital, the UN mission in the DR Congo said it "does not believe that reports that five civilians were killed are accurate," said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

The MONUSCO force carried out a helicopter-backed raid on rebels on Monday in the villages of Musanga and Minova in eastern DR Congo in which one combatant was killed, Dujarric said.

The raids were targeted at the Nduma Defense of Congo group, blamed for setting villages on fire in the region in recent days.

Governor Julien Paluku of North Kivu province told AFP by phone that he had met with "a delegation" that had visited the scene.

"The delegation confirms that MONUSCO pounded a village essentially made up of civilians" and "as of today... Five civilians were killed," he said.

A member of the delegation, Rumbo Buna Theophile, who heads a local organization, told AFP that the residents of Musanga village reported eight men hit by shrapnel, with four of them dead.

He said MONUSCO had provided no explanation for the attack "in this place where there were no... Combatants".

The mission's fact-finding team collected abandoned weapons from the area, said Dujarric. He added that "the target was armed combatants and that the operation was conducted in conformity with its mandate and rules of engagement."

Governor Paluku said he was calling urgent talks between MONUSCO and regional authorities to clarify why the village had been hit given that local authorities said there had been no violence by rebels in the area. 

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