Rwanda Army using surface-to-air missiles in east DR Congo, says UN

A suspected Rwandan Defence Force SAM was fired at a UN observation drone in DRC on last Wednesday.
| Photo Credit: REUTERS

The Rwandan Army supporting M23 rebels in an escalating conflict in eastern DR Congo is using sophisticated weapons such as surface-to-air missiles, according to a UN document seen by AFP on February 12.

Amid intensifying fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a “suspected Rwandan Defence Force (RDF) mobile surface-to-air missile (SAM)” was fired at a UN observation drone on last Wednesday without hitting it, the confidential report said.

“External military intelligence from France supports assessment that the suspected WZ551 6×6 IFV mobile SAM system is Rwandan,” it added.

Attached to the report are two aerial images in which a six-wheeled armoured vehicle is visible with a radar and missile launcher system on the roof.

The photos were taken by the targeted drone about 70 km north of the city of Goma, in rebel-held Rutshuru territory.

The UN’s MONUSCO peacekeeping mission says in the document it has “no past reporting of known armed groups possessing the training, capital or resources to operate and maintain a mobile SAM system”.

It added that it “indicates an escalation of conventional force conflict in eastern DRC”.

The document notes that M23 and the Rwanda Army have used numerous weapons against aircraft and also have in their armoury anti-aircraft guns and MANPAD mobile air defence systems.

Such weapons pose a high risk to all DRC government and UN aircraft in the region.

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