Congo: July 25, 2005


: UN  peacekeeping forces in  eastern Congo began a new offensive operation against rebel militias. Dubbed "Operation Thunder Storm," the offensive began on July 21. A UN statement said "Thunder Storm" was aimed at driving Rwandan rebel militiamen in the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) away from Congolese villages the militias had been threatening. (The FDLR and other "Rwandan militias" are primarily Hutu militias, but they often conduct raids with other tribal allies and bandits.) 

A 1200 troop "quick strike force" led the initial sweep. The force consisted of Pakistani infantry and some Guatemalan special forces troops. The UN said 200 Congolese ground troops were also involved in the operation. "Thunder Storm: targeted a 70 by 30 kilometer "box" in south Kivu province (what the UN report described as "the Kabare and Walungu territories"). The FDLR has said it would disarm but --as always-- the devil is in the details. The UN is also using a new military abbreviation to describe its military and political goals in the eastern Congo: DDRRR. That stands for disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, re-settlement and re-integration.


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