By Audrey Kapalamula:
Four Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldiers were killed and others injured on Wednesday while on a peace-keeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
MDF spokesperson, Paul Chiphwanya, confirmed the development in a press statement released yesterday.
Chiphwanya said the four— Steven Kambalame, Chauncy Chitete, Benjamin Nsongela and Simplex Taferakaso— were under Force Intervention Brigade (FIB).
Kambalame was working at Malawi Armed Forces College, Nsongela and Chitete belonged to Moyale Barracks and Taferakaso was from Changalume Barracks.
Chiphwanya said other soldiers sustained injuries in an operation aimed at clearing illegal armed groups.
“These soldiers were in a joint operation with other forces like Tanzania, South Africa troops, including the local forces, and as such they met some strong resistance from the illegal armed troops. They were fighting, which ended the lives of our soldiers,” he said.
He said MDF has lost brave and dedicated soldiers.
“MDF has lost courageous, hardworking and disciplined soldiers who were always ready to serve so as to ensure that peace prevails within and outside the country. MDF greatly mourns the deaths of these brave soldiers. We keep the families in our prayers during this difficult time,” he said.
He said the remains of the soldiers will be repatriated to Malawi once the United Nations procedures on such incidents are completed.
The deceased were among soldiers who were deployed to the DRC so as to replace their colleagues who wound up duty.
Some 850 soldiers underwent a pre-deployment training, which ended in June 2018, at Chikala Hills in Machinga District, courtesy of military instructors from the United Kingdom and the United States military.
Leila Zerrougui, head of the UN stabilisation mission to the DRC, has since raised the alarm over fighting in the country’s provinces of Tanganyika, South Kivu and North Kivu.
“I have grown increasingly alarmed over the situation in Beni in recent months, where we continue to face major challenges in implementing our mandate. There is a potential for armed group interference in elections in specific areas throughout eastern DRC,” Aljazeera website quoted her as saying Thursday.