Troops of the U.N. Organization Stabilization Mission in the Congo patrol a village. Fourteen MONUSCO soldiers were killed Friday in an attack in North Kivu province. File Photo by Sylvain Liechti/MONUSCO/UPI
Dec. 8 (UPI) -- Fourteen United Nations peacekeepers and five Congolese soldiers were killed Friday in an attack by anti-government forces, the world body said.
At least 50 more peacekeepers were injured in a clash involving troops of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, known as MONUSCO, and allied FARDC forces.
The troops' operating base at Semuliki, in North Kivu province, has been struck repeatedly in recent months by anti-government rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces group.
Officials said the U.N. troops, known colloquially as "blue helmets," were mostly Tanzanian soldiers, MONUSCO said. U.N. officials called the event "a very huge attack, certainly the worse attack in recent memory."
A MONUSCO statement Friday said the agency is performing medical evacuations and assessing the security situation.
"Attacks against those who are working in the service of peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are cowardly and constitute serious violations. MONUSCO will take all actions to ensure that the perpetrators are held accountable and brought to justice", said MONUSCO chief Maman Sidikou.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a thorough investigation of the battle and said the attack was an example of the challenges that U.N. forces face as peacekeepers.
"These deliberate attacks against U.N. peacekeepers are unacceptable and constitute a war crime," he said. "I condemn this attack unequivocally.There must be no impunity for such assaults, here or anywhere else."