Two Tanzanian U.N. peacekeepers killed in Congo ambush

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Two United Nations peacekeepers from Tanzania were killed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday when their patrol was ambushed in an area where government forces are fighting Ugandan rebels, the country’s U.N. mission said.

The peacekeepers were attacked in the village of Kikiki, around 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of the town of Beni in North Kivu province, Felix Basse, spokesman for the mission known as MONUSCO, told Reuters

“The ambush took place today, this afternoon ... The death toll is two and we have a couple of injured,” he said.

The Congolese army said earlier on Tuesday that it had killed 16 Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels during fierce fighting in the same zone over the weekend.

Tuesday’s ambush was the second attack on U.N. forces in the area in 48 hours after a MONUSCO helicopter carrying the mission’s military chief was fired upon by unidentified gunmen on Monday.

“I won’t tolerate any more of these repeated attacks against blue helmets in Beni territory,” Martin Kobler, head of MONUSCO, tweeted following the attack. “MONUSCO will carry out robust offensive operations.”

Congolese forces launched Operation Sukola I early last year against the Islamist ADF, who are accused of massacring some 300 villagers near Beni between October and December. MONUSCO is providing support for the offensive.

Eastern Congo, where a 1998-2003 conflict resulted in millions of deaths, remains plagued by dozens of armed groups that prey on the local population and exploit the region’s vast reserves of gold, tin and diamonds.

Reporting by Aaron Ross; Editing by Joe Bavier, Chris Reese and Ken Wills