Congo: War Enters the Bandit Phase

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: Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

March 22, 2007: UN peacekeepers, and their armored vehicles, deployed around the capital, Kinshasha. The UN troops are deployed as a "buffer" to prevent a clash between Congolese government forces and former rebel Jean-Pierre Bemba's security force. In response to a government disarmament order, former presidential candidate and leading opposition politician Bemba refuses to disarm his militia and personal guards. Bemba insists that there had been numerous attempts on his life and the personal troops were necessary to assure his security.

March 20, 2007: UN investigating teams reported that a recent "assessment" confirmed that members of the Congolese Army (FARDC, Forces armées de la république démocratique du Congo) and the Congolese police had participated in "human rights abuses" in the eastern Congo's Ituri province. In February 2007 troops went on "a rampage" of looting after a fight with the FNI militia. While most of the large, organized rebel units have been disarmed or dispersed, this has left dozens of bandit gangs wandering around the bush. That's over 20,000 armed men, with banditry as their only livelihood. While not as much of a military threat, the bandits will be more difficult to hunt down than the rebel militias. It will take some time, perhaps months, to recruit local tribesmen as scouts and trackers to find the bandits, and capture or kill them.

 

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