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Friday, 17 August, 2001, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
UN plane hit in DR Congo
UN troops deployed in the DR Congo
UN troops: plane on a mission when it came under fire in DR Congo
The United Nations says that one of its helicopters has been shot at by unidentified gunmen in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A spokesman with the UN Observer Mission in the Congo, MONUC, said the helicopter, which was clearly marked with the UN insignia, landed safely and none of the four people on board was hurt.


It is a source of concern that people who are here to make peace are being targeted

UN spokesman Hamadou Toure
Spokesman Hamadou Toure told the BBC's Network Africa programme that 14 bullets hit the plane on Thursday during a routine flight.

The incident happened in Biera near Lake Tanganyika, an area largely controlled by anti-government rebels backed by Rwanda and the usually pro-government traditional militia group known as Mai-Mai.

Mr Toure said it was too early to say if the incident warranted talk of scaling down UN troops in the Congo but he added: "It is a source of concern that people who are here to make peace are being targeted. It's not acceptable."

Investigating

No one has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, which the UN says it is investigating.

This is the second time a UN helicopter has been shot at since the deployment of 2,500 UN peacekeepers and military observers to monitor the ceasefire signed by the warring factions.

The UN has been making slow progress since it deployed in early March and relations between it and the rebels have not been always good.

Since the war started in 1998, Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe soldiers have been fighting alongside the government, whilst Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi have backed the rebels in the east and north of the country.

The withdrawal of foreign troops has begun gradually.

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 ON THIS STORY
UN spokesman in DRC Hamadou Toure
"Suddenly the helicopter received 14 impacts (bullets)"
See also:

20 May 01 | Africa
UN warned of DR Congo 'genocide'
18 Jan 01 | Business
Congo economy 'ravaged' by conflict
18 May 01 | Africa
Foreign workers abducted in Congo
22 May 01 | Africa
UN seeks peace for DR Congo
16 Aug 01 | Africa
Ugandan president denies plunder
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