Military helicopters crash in eastern Congo, four crew missing

By REUTERS
January 30, 2017 10:43

KINSHASA - Two military helicopters crashed in a strife-torn part of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo with at least four crew members on board, authorities said on Monday.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende told Reuters it was not clear what brought down the helicopters on Friday in North Kivu province near the borders with Rwanda and Uganda.

Over the weekend, UN-sponsored Radio Okapi cited military sources as saying that the helicopters crashed while pursuing fighters from the former Congolese rebel group M23. An army spokesman declined to comment.

The M23 was the largest of dozens of armed groups in the country and controlled huge swaths of eastern Congo in 2012 and 2013 before it was defeated by Congolese and UN forces.

Reports of a possible M23 revival by former fighters held in camps in Uganda and Rwanda have surged in recent weeks. On Monday, Rwanda's defense ministry said in a statement that a group of about 30 unarmed people claiming to be M23 and fleeing combat with Congo's army crossed the border at the weekend.

Mende said he had not yet seen the statement.


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