United Nations peacekeepers stand next to a drone after it crashed at Goma's airport, on January 15, 2014 (Photo: AFP)
United Nations peacekeepers stand next to a drone after it crashed at Goma’s airport, on January 15, 2014 (Photo: AFP)

An unmanned aircraft used by U.N. peacekeepers in Democratic Republic of Congo was damaged yesterday while landing at the airport near the eastern town of Goma. The incident occurred as the Falco drone was returning from a mission, and no casualties were reported, said Lt. Col. Felix Prosper Basse, a military spokesman for the country’s peacekeeping mission. The United Nations force started using the Italian made Falco drones last month, to help it monitor armed groups operating along Congo’s border zone with Rwanda and Uganda.

In March 2013 the U.N. Security Council authorized the use of unarmed drones on a trial basis for intelligence gathering in eastern Congo, a region where numerous armed groups continue to operate despite the defeat of the M23 rebel group late last year. In december 2013 the first of five ‘Falco’ drones destined for the mission began operations at Goma. The Falco drones used by the U.N. force are manufactured by Selex ES, a unit of Italian defence group Finmeccanica.

Seven years ago, on October 3, 2006 a B-Hunter unmanned aircraft operated by the Belgian Army, in support of the European peace keeping force (EUFOR) in Congo crashed while operating over the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital city of Kinshasa. One civilian was killed and three others injured in that accident, believed to be the first incident of a human casualty by an crashed unmanned aircraft.

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