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EU force in Congo suspends flights of unmanned drones after two crashes

EU force in Congo suspends flights of unmanned drones after two crashes

The European Union force helping to monitor Congo's elections said Thursday it had grounded its fleet of surveillance drones after two of the unmanned planes crashed in the Central African nation's capital.
Flights will not resume until investigators establish the cause of the second crash of a Belgian drone, which fell into a Kinshasa street shortly after takeoff Tuesday, killing one person and wounding three others, said Col. Thierry Fusalba, a spokesman for the EU force.
In July, a Belgian drone crashed on a test flight over Kinshasa, injuring five people in what officials originally said might be a technical problem.
A later investigation found the plane was shot down. The EU force, with 800 troops in Congo, has four Belgian drones, officials said.
Militia groups repeatedly shot at aircraft that were patrolling the skies before Congo's elections, held in July.
Congo's restive capital is preparing for a second round presidential vote next month that many worry could plunge the city back into violence. After first round results were released, supporters of the two main candidates fought in the streets for days. The parties have since pledged to disarm Kinshasa for the balloting.
Congo recently installed a democratically elected parliament after more than 40 years of dictatorship, corruption and ethnic violence. The country has been operating under a transitional government since the end of a 1996-2002 war.
The European Union sent a 1,500-strong force to Congo to help secure the electoral process, reinforcing a 17,500-strong U.N. force.


Updated : 2021-06-14 20:33 GMT+08:00