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United States Offers Condolences for Peacekeepers Killed in Congo

23 January 2006

Eight Guatemalan soldiers died in operations against Lord's Resistance Army

The United States offered its condolences January 23 to the families of eight Guatemalan peacekeepers killed in operations of the U.N. Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

According to the U.N. News Centre, the eight, along with five other peacekeepers who were injured, were seeking Ugandan rebels who had displaced thousands of local civilians from a park.

The peacekeepers had been engaged in reconnaissance operations for the past 10 days against suspected elements of the Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the United Nations said.  These elements were reported to be present in the Garamba National Park in the Haut Uélé district of eastern DRC, about 70 kilometers from the border with Sudan.

“We join with the United Nations and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo in condemning the threat posed by foreign and domestic armed groups operating in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in a statement, underscoring U.S. support for U.N. Security Council Resolution 1649, which calls for the elimination of these armed groups.

Following is the text of the State Department statement:

(begin text)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
January 23, 2006

Statement by Sean McCormack, Spokesman

UN Peacekeepers Killed in Democratic Republic of Congo

The United States offers its condolences to the families of eight courageous and dedicated Guatemalan peacekeepers who were killed during operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The peacekeepers were part of a mission against the Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in northeastern DRC.  We also express our concern for the welfare of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) peacekeepers and Congolese armed forces soldiers injured during the operation.

We join with the United Nations and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo in condemning the threat posed by foreign and domestic armed groups operating in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.   We underscore our support for United Nations Security Council Resolution 1649, which calls for the elimination of these armed groups, and we commend the UN and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo for its robust action to end the threat posed by the presence of the Lord's Resistance Army and other militia.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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