The United Nations, working with the Congolese military, has had a successful start to its campaign to push rebel forces from their strongholds in northeast Congo.
The area in question is currently in the grip of an ebola outbreak and local health officials are trying to contain the outbreak before more lives are lost.
Speaking on November 16, the UN’s peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix said the joint operation had "achieved quite significant results" and was still underway. He said seven peacekeepers had been killed in attacks and exchanges of gunfire last week with Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels. By November 15, the number of peacekeepers killed had risen to eight.
UN and Congolese troops faced two separate attacks by ADF fighters near the regional capital, Beni. This is the largest city currently battling the ebola outbreak and is also at the centre of the government’s fight against the virus.
"They [UN troops] returned fire. They repelled the first attack successfully," he said. "But then the armed group reorganised and in the second attack, unfortunately our peacekeepers appear to have been killed and injured."
One of the notable successes was the capture of an ADF base, which had been used to attack Beni in the past.
The UN’s envoy for Congo, Leila Zerrougui, said six ADF combatants were arrested. The operation was launched in the Beni region, which is a known hot-spot for ADF and Mai-Mai rebel activity. The purpose of the operation was to secure the area so that medical and humanitarian teams would be able to access and treat ebola patients.
According to AP, the eastern Congo region is rich in minerals. It is also home to a variety of armed groups, all vying for control of the mineral fields.