Two United Nations peacekeepers from Tanzania were killed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday when their patrol was ambushed in an area where government forces are fighting Ugandan rebels, the country's U.N. mission said.
The peacekeepers were attacked in the village of Kikiki, about 30 miles north of the town of Beni in Nord-Kivu province, according to Felix Basse, a spokesman for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo (MONUSCO).
"The ambush took place today, this afternoon. ... The death toll is two and we have a couple of injured," he said.
The Congolese army said earlier on Tuesday that it had killed 16 Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels during fierce fighting in the same zone over the weekend.
Tuesday's ambush was the second attack on U.N. forces in the area in 48 hours after a MONUSCO helicopter carrying the mission's military chief was fired upon by unidentified gunmen on Monday.
"I won't tolerate any more of these repeated attacks against blue helmets in Beni territory," Martin Kobler, head of MONUSCO, tweeted following the attack. "MONUSCO will carry out robust offensive operations."
DRC is home to a myriad of armed groups, many vying for control of the country’s vast mineral resources. Many of the rebel groups sowing unrest originate from other countries in the region, including Burundi, Uganda and Rwanda.
A regional conflict from 1998-2003 resulted in millions of deaths as armed groups preyed on the local population and exploited the region's vast reserves of gold, tin and diamonds.
A rebel group called Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan group targeted by the Congolese army and U.N. peacekeepers has been operating in the Nord-Kiku region.
Last year, Congolese troops and U.N. peacekeepers launched a major offensive against the ADF, which is accused of widespread rights abuses including murder, rape and use of child soldiers. It funds its activities by trafficking timber and gold.