According to reports by Reuters, the Congolese army has killed more than 50 fighters belonging to the Kamwina Nsapu militia in central DRC. They died while seeking to avenge the death of their leader and founder, Kamwina Nsapu, who died last August. The UN peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO) has condemned the recent clashes and criticized the Congolese army for using disproportionate force.
DW spoke to Lieutenant Colonel Felix Basse, spokesperson of MONUSCO.
DW: How would you describe the security situation in Kasai provinces at the moment?
Felix Basse: The clashes were reported on February 9 regarding this militia Kamwina Nsapu in the Chimbululu area. On February 10, we received reports that the clashes have continued between Kwamina Nsapu and the Congolese security forces. On Saturday, there have been unconfirmed reports saying that up to 100 people have been killed, but this hasn't been confirmed yet.
What could be the cause of the recent flare-up of violence in this region?
We have observed since August recurrent clashes involving this militia, Kwamina Nsapu, and the DRC security forces. MONUSCO is taking all necessary measures, first of all, to go on the ground, asses the situation and take appropriate action.
MONUSCO has criticized the Congolese army for using disproportionate force. Why is that?
Disproportionate force for us means the use of weapons. What we have are militia men carrying machetes, sticks and few hunting weapons. In front of them they are facing FARDC (Congolese army) equipped with machine and RPG 7 weapons. That is why we are criticizing the indiscriminate use of force.
How strong is MONUSCO's presence there and how soon can the situation be resolved?
MONUSCO has deployed in that area. First of all, I need to say that we have not been present in that area for a long time, because the situation has been very calm in the west of DRC. That's why, in order to protect the civilian population, MONUSCO has shifted most of its forces to the east of the country in order to be close to the population that we are supposed to protect.
This move took place in 2014. When the situation started getting worse in that area, we deployed some forces from our rapid deployment battalion. A company of blue helmets has been deployed in Kananga since December 22 in order to protect civilians and also protect UN personnel, the UN premises and also the airport of Kananga. These troops are also escorting provincial DRC authorities or MONUSCO authorities in order to try and join the effort of bringing peace in that area.
Felix Basse is the spokesperson for the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC.