Militias on Sunday killed a Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldier Staff Sergeant Dyson William Mayao in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after ambushing one of the MDF forward operations bases.
MDF public relations officer Lieutenant Paul Chiphwanya confirmed the incident.
He said: “Mayao died while serving and was 50 years old. He was operating from Eringeti, one of MDF Forward Operations bases and was killed when the base was attacked by an armed group around 1600hours.”
Chiphwanya, who described the late Mayao as a courageous, hard-working and disciplined soldier, said the deceased was working as a mortar man—someone who operates weapons and equipment in ground combat—in the DRC.
He said: “We greatly mourn the death of Mayao and his family has been informed accordingly. We keep the family in our prayers during this difficult time.”
In a statement issued later, MDF said Mayao joined the military on December 31 1987 and was based at Chilumba Barracks in Karonga. He comes from Ntata Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Mabuka in Mulanje District and is survived by a wife and five children.
The statement said Mayao’s remains will be repatriated to Malawi once United Nations (UN) procedures on such incidents are completed and the nation will be informed of the date.
Reuters reported that 29 others were also killed in the attack. DRC forces killed 14 rebels while the rebels killed at least seven civilians with machetes. Eight Congolese soldiers and Mayao from the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), which has a mandate to conduct offensive operations, died in combat.
In April this year, six MDF troops fighting armed rebel groups in DRC’s North Kivu region sustained injuries following an ambush by one of the rebel groups.
Malawi is part of the three-nation FIB mandated by the UN to engage in direct fighting against the numerous armed groups—notably, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), the Ugandan Alliance of Democratic Forces (ADF) and other smaller groups—that have been destabilising eastern DRC for over 15 years.
Besides Malawi, other members of the FIB are South Africa and Tanzania who have also been previously attacked by the rebels. In August 2013, a major from the Tanzania Defence Force was killed in an ambush and five soldiers were seriously injured. In the same year, two South African soldiers were also seriously injured. n