Kisangani (Congo), Jan 28: UN Secretary General Ban
ki-Moon bowed his head today before a memorial honouring the
53 UN peacekeepers killed in Congo, which hosts the world
body`s largest peacekeeping force in the world.
Ban chose a memorial to the UN`s sacrifices here as the
stage for the second day of his tour of the continent, his
first as the UN`s new chief.
Bearing a bouquet of red and violet flowers, Ban
approached the plaque containing the names of the dead, gently
placing the blossoms at its base. He stood in silence, then
bowed his head.
Of the 53 peacekeepers killed in Congo, 38 have died in
the lawless eastern half of the country since the
18,000-strong peacekeeping mission began in 1999, said local
UN commander Charles Du Bois, speaking in this north eastern
town on the curving banks of the Congo river, deep inside the
country's thickly forested interior.
Congo was divided by rival rebel factions during the
nation's 1998-2002 war. The country was reunited under a
peace deal that paved the way for elections last year, but
the fledgling army -- backed by un troops -- has struggled for
years to keep peace in the volatile east, where battles
against and between myriad militia groups and renegade
soldiers take place sporadically.