UN report: Congolese officers got pistols from North Koreans

AP , Saturday 14 May 2016

congo UN peacekeepers
UN peacekeepers with weapons recovered from militants in Congo (File Photo: Reuters)

UN experts say Congolese army officers and police reported receiving pistols from a group of 30 North Korean instructors training their presidential guard and special police forces, which would appear to be a violation of UN sanctions banning Pyongyang from exporting weapons or providing military training.

The panel of experts monitoring UN sanctions against Congo said they found that pistols similar to those produced in North Korea were issued to some members of the Congolese army and national police serving in the UN peacekeeping mission.

"The group also found that the same type of pistol was available for sale on the black market in Kinshasa," the Congolese capital, the panel said in excerpts from the report seen by The Associated Press on Friday.

On another issue, the experts said Rwanda is continuing to train and finance Burundian refugees in Congo with the ultimate goal of removing Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza from power.

The Rwandan government "denied any involvement," the experts said.

In a report in February, the experts said about 400 Burundian refugees in Congo were recruited and trained by Rwandan military personnel last year in military tactics, small arms such as assault rifles and machine guns, and hand grenades and mortars, among other weaponry, with the aim of overthrowing Nkurunziza.

"Similar outside support continued through 2016," the new report said. "This took the form of training, financing, and logistical support for Burundan combatants crossing from Rwanda" to Congo.

The experts said they also met Rwandans who told them they had been involved in training Burundian combatants or had been sent to Congo to help support the Burundian opposition.

Burundi has been wracked by violence since April 2015 when Nkurunziza declared his bid for a third term, which he eventually won in July, despite protests that it violates the constitution.

More than 400 people have been killed and an upsurge of violence, including tortures and increased disappearances, has created a climate of fear and led more than 250,000 people to flee to neighboring countries.

The Congo conflict is a spillover from the 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda. Hundreds of Hutus who participated in the mass slaughter escaped into Congo and still fight in the mineral-rich and volatile east, along with other armed groups. The UN has a 20,000-strong peacekeeping force in the country, mainly in the east.

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