DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Congo’s army says rebels in the country’s east have shot down a United Nations helicopter carrying eight peacekeepers and U.N. observers.
The helicopter shot Monday was among two carrying out reconnaissance for the U.N. mission in Congo, according to a statement from Congo’s army on Tuesday. Those on the helicopter were assessing the movements of communities that had been attacked by a rebel group in order to coordinate humanitarian assistance.
The M23 rebel group on Monday attacked several villages including Tchanzu, Runyonyi, Ndiza and Tchengerero, according to the statement.
Congo’s forces and the U.N. are searching for the helicopter and potential survivors, the army said.
Eastern Congo is prone to insecurity as there are several armed groups vying for control of mineral-rich territory lands. In 2012 the M23 rebels controlled large areas of eastern Congo, including the provincial capital Goma. The rebels were eventually pushed from eastern Congo into Uganda and Rwanda in 2013 by Congolese and United Nations forces.
Despite ongoing efforts to disarm the group, M23 rebels have recently increased their attacks in the region.