- Two escape unhurt in rebel ambush
Six Malawi Defence Force (MDF) troops fighting armed rebel groups in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), have sustained injuries following an ambush on Friday, authorities have confirmed.
Sources on the ground in DRC yesterday told The Nation the attack came after a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) aimed at a patrol Toyota Landcruiser carrying MDF troops landed a few metres from the vehicle, injuring six of the eight Malawian soldiers on board. No death occurred, said the source.
The attack occurred in Kishalu where MDF has established a Forward Operational Base (FOB).
MDF confirmed the incident and described the injuries recorded as minor as six troops sustained various degrees of injuries.
“There was an attack yes, but no casualties and we are grateful for that,” said MDF spokesperson Lieutenant Paul Chiphwanya. He declined to name the injured officers.
This is the first ambush aimed at MDF troops since their deployment in DRC in 2013.
Malawi is part of the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) mandated by the United Nations (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.
Other members of the FIB are South Africa and Tanzania who have been attacked before by the rebels. On 28 August 2013, a major from Tanzania Defence Force was killed in an ambush where five soldiers were seriously injured.
In the same year, two South African soldiers were also seriously injured.
Malawi deployed an 850-strong contingent as part of the mission and has since assigned three battalions in the past three years under the code name Mal Bat.
The Malawi troops are expected to complete their operations in DRC in May 2015.
In February this year—during a visit to Goma in DRC by members of the Parliamentary Committee on Security and Defence, Ministry of Defence officials and Deputy MDF Commander Lieutenant General Griffin Supuni Phiri—the UN awarded medals to Malawian soldiers and officers for demonstrating professionalism in their operations.