South Africa losses 2 soldiers in Congo mission

South African military has said on Thursday that two of its soldiers were killed and three wounded by a mortar bomb in Democratic Republic of Congo, as President Cyril Ramaphosa struck back against opposition claims that they were ill-equipped.

South Africa said earlier this week that it would send 2,900 troops as part of its contribution to a force deployed by southern African regional bloc SADC to help Congo fight rebel groups in its restive eastern region.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) said in a statement posted on X that a mortar bomb landed inside one of the South African contingent’s military bases on Wednesday.

“As a result of this indirect fire, the SANDF suffered two fatalities and three members sustained injuries. The injured were taken to the nearest hospital in Goma for medical attention,” the statement said.

An investigation into the incident will be conducted, the SANDF added.

South Africa’s main opposition Democratic Alliance party accused Ramaphosa of sending troops into a war zone unprepared.

“Two days ago, we warned him against deploying more troops to the Eastern DRC for the simple reason that the SANDF does not have the capacity to effectively pursue an anti-insurgency campaign against the M23 rebels and neither does it have the prime mission equipment to support the ground forces,” it said in a statement.

The M23 is a Tutsi-led group that recently stepped up its offensive in eastern Congo.

President Ramaphosa acknowledged the deaths and defended South Africa’s mission in response to questions from journalists later.

“Yes, we do have the military hardware to engage in military operations such as those we are finding in eastern DRC. South Africa has over many years participated in peacekeeping missions in various parts of our continent,” he said.

Africanews/Hauwa M.

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