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M23, FARDC Trade Accusation Over Shooting MONUSCO Helicopter :: Uganda Radionetwork
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M23, FARDC Trade Accusation Over Shooting MONUSCO Helicopter

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The MONUSCO helicopter was brought down during a reconnaissance mission in the area of ​​Tchanzu and Runyoni, Rutshuru territory killing eight people on board. Some of the dead are ​​Lt Col Asif Ali Awan, Maj Saad Nomani, Maj Faizan Ali, Naib Subedar Samiullak Khan, Havaldar Muhammad Ismail and Lance Corporal Havaldar Muhamad Jamil, all Pakistan soldiers.
Some of the M23 rebels (sitting) after arrest
March 23 Movement (M23) rebels have distanced themselves from accusations of shooting down a helicopter belonging to the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) in Rutshuru Territory, North Kivu province on Tuesday.

The MONUSCO helicopter was brought down during a reconnaissance mission in the area of ​​Tchanzu and Runyoni, Rutshuru territory killing eight people on board. Some of the dead are ​​Lt Col Asif Ali Awan, Maj Saad Nomani, Maj Faizan Ali, Naib Subedar Samiullak Khan, Havaldar Muhammad Ismail and Lance Corporal Havaldar Muhamad Jamil, all Pakistan soldiers. 

The helicopter was hit during heavy fighting between the M23 rebels and Congolese government troops in Murujinga, Rwanguba, and Mukiharo-Bunagana, three kilometres to the main Uganda-DRC border. After the incident,  the DRC government through General Sylvain Ekenge, the spokesman for the Governor of North Kivu, accused the M23 rebels of shooting down the helicopter.  

However, on Wednesday morning, M23 through its spokesperson, Major Willy Mpoma, M23 rejected the accusations. Mpoma argues that FARDC troops from Rumangabo military base in Rutshuru Territory, North of Goma in Nord Kivu province, 3.5 kilometres north of the headquarters of Virunga National Park shot down the helicopter.

Mpoma explains that FARDC used a 122mm Rocket Launcher System (BM)to shoot down the helicopter. He calls on MONUSCO to continue investigating the circumstances leading to the crash of the helicopter. Meanwhile, four M23 rebels and two FARDC soldiers were killed during Tuesday’s fighting in Murujinga and Mukiharo-Bunagana, according to a security source in Rutshuru who preferred anonymity. 

He also says that 10 M23 rebels were captured alive with the help of the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces-UPDF while trying to flee to Uganda. A source also confirms that by Tuesday evening FARDC had managed to drive M23 rebels out of Rwanguba hill forcing them to retreat to Jomba and Chanzu.  

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