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At least 22 killed in two DRC helicopter crashes, Congo army says

At least 22 people were killed when two Ugandan military helicopters crashed in east Democratic Republic of Congo, a Congo army spokesman who asked not to be named told Reuters on Wednesday.

Uganda sent troops to its central African neighbour in December to help fight a rebel group known as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

The Ugandan army “have not yet told us the circumstances of the crashes,” the spokesman said.

“It involves two helicopters. We are talking about 22 dead for the time being,” he added, without providing further detail.

Uganda’s army spokesman Felix Kulayigye confirmed one helicopter crash and said “there were fatalities, but I don’t have any extra details at the moment”.

Another military source in Congo said the first helicopter crashed on Monday over the village of Boga in Ituri province, while the second fell at the Kabarole border area between the two countries.

Three Congolese soldiers died in the first crash, the source said, but did not specify whether they were in the helicopter or on the ground. The source declined to comment on behalf of Uganda ahead of consultations between the two parties.

The ADF began as an uprising in Uganda but has been based in Congo since the late 1990s. Uganda blames the group for a triple suicide bombing in its capital Kampala on 16 November, which killed seven people, including the bombers.

It is one of several militias fighting over land and resources in Congo’s mineral-rich east over the past decade, a conflict that has claimed thousands of lives and displaced millions.

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In June, Uganda and Congo extended their joint military mission, which was initially meant to last six months. It is the largest foreign intervention in Congo in over a decade aside from United Nations peacekeeping personnel.

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