…As ICC backs off investigation of possible U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan***
Congolese troops killed 36 Burundian rebels in clashes with two armed groups in the east of Democratic Republic of Congo and three soldiers were also killed, the DRC Army said on Friday.
The Congolese army mounted a series of operations between April 6 and April 8 in the eastern province of South Kivu aimed at regaining territory against the Burundian rebel groups National Liberation Forces (FNL) and the Burundian Republican Forces (FOREBU).
“During the three days of combat, 36 of those rebels have been neutralised,” army spokesman, Dieudonne Kasereka, said.
FNL leader, Gen. Aloyse Zabampema, was seriously wounded, he said.
Several areas formerly under the control of rebels have been recovered by Congolese soldiers, he added.
Reuters was unable to immediately confirm the army report.
The FNL is among several ethnic Hutu rebel groups that rose up to fight Burundi’s Tutsi-led military government in the 1993 to 2005 civil war.
Though, it officially disarmed in 2009, pockets of FNL fighters remained active in eastern Congo.
Millions were killed in the civil war in Congo from 1998 to 2003, when foreign armies and allied rebel groups clashed over territory and mineral concessions, mostly in the east.
Congo’s President, Felix Tshisekedi, who took office in January, has pledged to address the militia violence that persists in the region.
Meanwhile, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has dismissed a request for an investigation into war crimes committed in Afghanistan that would have called for trying U.S. soldiers in The Hague.
ICC judges found that “an investigation into the situation in Afghanistan at this stage would not serve the interests of justice,” according to a statement issued on Friday.
Prosecutors wanted to see an investigation of crimes against humanity and war crimes possibly perpetrated by U.S. soldiers and CIA operatives as well as Afghan security forces and the Taliban starting from 2003.
The court said in November 2017 after analysing evidence gathered by prosecutors since 2006 that there was “reasonable basis to believe’’ war crimes had been carried out by Taliban, Afghan and U.S. forces.
Some of the evidence related to U.S. “secret detention facilities.”
While the U.S. does not recognise the court, Afghanistan does, making a prosecution of U.S. soldiers possible in this instance.
The ICC judges denied prosecutors authorisation to pursue the investigation further, saying that the difficult situation on the ground in the conflict-stricken state make “prospects for a successful investigation and prosecution extremely limited.”
The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump had threatened ICC employees and judges with sanctions over the possible legal proceedings.
The chief prosecutor in the investigation, Fatou Bensouda, recently had her U.S. visa revoked.