It has been reported that one Nepali peacekeeper has been killed while seven others are being held hostage by the militias in Congo ahead of the upcoming elections. Reports say that the militias have been demanding $20,000 per person for the release of those Nepali soldiers.
According to the Reuters news agency, the soldiers were seized during a U.N. military operation in Congo's violence-prone Ituri district on Sunday in which one other peacekeeper from Nepal was killed and three wounded. The incident showed that the 17,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo — the biggest in the world — was still struggling to pacify parts of the vast central African country ahead of historic elections scheduled to be held on July 30.
It is said that the militias under the command of Peter Karim are holding the Nepali peacekeepers. Kantipur further writes:
"Peter Karim is holding these men and he is demanding money for their release. We are hearing of a figure of $20,000 for each peacekeeper," the source told the news agency.
It is sad that people who are trying to defend law and order in foreign countries have to face such atrocities. It isn't the first time that UN peacekeepers are held hostage anyway. But, UN has to work seriously for the release of these men who went out of the country to serve UN mission despite a gloomy situation back home.
Reports say that the UN forces have stepped up their offensive actions against the militias recently to ensure elections are fair and peaceful. This might have been the reason for the kidnapping of Nepali soldiers. However, the rebel factions should understand that they will gain nothing by killing innocent Nepali soldiers.
Congo is a weird place to work for such UN missions. The people are sketchy and you can never trust those people who walk beside you on the roads. Nepali soldiers dared to work in such conditions reinforcing their "GURKHA" attitude. However, times have changed. We need to act in a rational way. May be we need to select the countries where we want to send our forces. We do not want peace in foreign countries at the cost of our people, Nepali people.
(based on: kantipuronline.com May 29)