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Analyst Says UN Crackdown on Congolese Militias Could Enhance Popularity of Peacekeepers

The United Nations says its peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo have killed more than 50 members of a militia accused of murdering UN troops last week. The UN mission in Congo says violence erupted Tuesday near the northeastern town of Bunia, where militiamen shot and killed nine Bangladeshi peacekeepers last Friday. A UN spokesman said peacekeepers responded to gunfire from militiamen with attack helicopters and armored vehicles. He said two Pakistani peacekeepers were wounded in the battle. Tuesday, Congolese officials arrested the leader of the militia believed to be responsible for killing the Bangladeshi troops.

An analyst with the International Crisis Group, Jim Terrie, explained to English to Africa reporter William Eagle that Ituru is the scene of inter-ethnic rivalry, often between gangs from the Hema and Lendu peoples over the control of the area’s gold and diamonds. Mr. Terrie says if the UN’s use of force against these gangs is successful, it could become a model for other areas of the country working to regain stability ahead of the country’s upcoming national elections.