UN officials defended peacekeepers who killed up to 60 militiamen in a gunbattle in Congo, saying the international troops were acting in self-defence and protecting civilians who had been terrorized for years. The high death count and fierce fighting defied the notion that UN peacekeepers stick to defence rather than joining the fight. But the Congo mission was given a stronger mandate last year to round up guns and defend the populace. The 242 Pakistani peacekeepers were on a mission to dismantle a militant headquarters near the village of Loga, in lawless Ituri province in eastern Congo, when they came under fire. They responded with sustained fire that included air support from Indian attack helicopters. “These militias had been preying on villagers and it was felt it was the UN’s role to protect the vulnerable population, and that’s what the aim of the mission was,” UN associate spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. Full Story
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