Two South African soldiers killed in DR Congo amid uptick in violence

South Africa announced two soldiers killed by mortar attacks in Congo. The conflict, attributed to the M23 rebel group, worsens, displacing over a million, with an imminent threat to aid operations.

On Thursday, South Africa announced that two of its soldiers had lost their lives due to mortar attacks in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), marking the first casualties since their deployment. The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) reported that in addition to the fatalities, three other members were wounded by the indirect fire. The injured were promptly transported to the closest hospital in Goma for medical treatment.


The South African National Defence Force, responsible for all of the country’s armed forces, stated that it believed the mortar explosion on Wednesday resulted from “indirect fire,” with an ongoing investigation to determine responsibility. South Africa deployed soldiers to Congo as part of the Southern African Development Community’s mission aimed at combating armed rebel groups in the eastern region. Recently, South Africa announced plans to send an additional 2,900 soldiers to eastern Congo, although it remains unclear whether the casualties were from this new deployment. The targeted base was located in North Kivu province, as confirmed by South African National Defence Force spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini. The injured personnel were transported to a hospital in Goma.
In the conflict-affected area, violence has escalated in recent weeks, with many attributing the attacks to the M23 rebel group, which has been engaged in clashes with Congolese soldiers in the region for several years. Kinshasa asserts that M23, one among the numerous armed groups in the area, is receiving military assistance from neighbouring Rwanda. While experts from the United Nations and European Union have presented evidence supporting these claims, Rwanda denies any involvement.
However, recent statements from M23 suggest that the group is facing increased pressure in eastern Congo, raising concerns that it may be targeting Goma once again, a city it previously seized a decade ago.
According to aid organizations, the conflict has displaced over one million individuals since November, exacerbating one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises, with 6.9 million already displaced. The Norwegian Refugee Council warned on Thursday that the recent movement of armed groups toward the crucial town of Sake, near Goma, presents an immediate danger to the entire humanitarian aid infrastructure in eastern Congo.