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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 February, 2005, 16:57 GMT
DR Congo to punish UN attackers
Congolese troops escorting the defence minister
Congo's army is to give better support to the UN
The Democratic Republic of Congo says it will spare no effort in tracking down those behind the killing on Friday of nine United Nations peacekeepers.

Defence Minister Adolphe Onusumba said the time had passed when such acts would go unpunished.

The minister is visiting the eastern Ituri province, where the Bangladeshi peacekeepers were killed.

It was the deadliest attack against the UN mission in Congo since it started work six years ago.

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Bangladesh has said it will continue to contribute troops to UN missions despite the incident.

The UN force in Ituri, Monuc, also includes peacekeeping troops from Pakistan, Morocco and Nepal.

'Deplorable'

Ituri has been the scene of bitter ethnic fighting for a number of years.

To those who committed these terrible acts, they should know henceforth that the time has passed for such acts to go unpunished
Adolphe Onusumba
DR Congo Defence Minister

Violence between rival militias resumed in the mineral-rich province in December, and aid workers say tens of thousands of people have been displaced by the fighting - many fleeing to neighbouring Uganda.

UN forces have come under attack in Ituri before, but this is the first time that soldiers have been killed there, says the BBC's correspondent in the region, Ishbel Matheson.

Mr Onusumba arrived in the provincial capital, Bunia, on a visit aimed at boosting the morale of the peacekeepers "because what happened was deplorable".

"What took place cannot leave anyone indifferent, since how can one kill the same people who have voluntarily chosen to come and help us," he told reporters.

Support for UN

"To those who committed these terrible acts, they should know henceforth that the time has passed for such acts to go unpunished," Mr Onusumba said.

"We are not going to spare any effort to ensure intelligence services are able to tell us what exactly took place."

He said the army would work more closely with the UN mission to crush the gangs involved in the violence.

The government would deploy trained personnel in places where Monuc was exposed.

Bangladesh, which is one of the largest contributors to UN peacekeeping operations across the world, has 1,300 troops in DR Congo.

The soldiers' deaths were the second largest loss of life for the Bangladeshi army while on UN peacekeeping duties.

In October 2003, 15 Bangladeshi officers died in a plane crash in Liberia.





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