UN intervention force for DRC to have 3,069 troops

KINSHASA (AFP) - Some 3,069 troops will serve in the United Nations (UN) intervention brigade designed to fight armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a UN official said on Saturday.

The brigade will include "3,069 troops. That's the official number," said Mr Madnodje Mounoubai, spokesman for the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission, which will incorporate the brigade.

South Africa, Tanzania and Malawi will contribute troops to the brigade. Each country will send an infantry battalion of 850 soldiers, which amounts to 2,550 men, the spokesman said.

The remaining 519 will be spread out in an artillery company, a special forces company and a reconnaissance company, he added.

The brigade will operate under the command of a Tanzanian general, he said.

On March 28, the UN Security Council unanimously approved the creation of a brigade of more than 2,500 troops with a mandate to conduct "targeted offensive operations" against rebels in eastern DR Congo, a mineral-rich area that has been gripped by conflict for more than two decades.

It marked the first time that UN peacekeepers were given a mandate to conduct offensive operations. Many rebel movements and armed tribal militias are active in the east of the country.

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