South African troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo have suffered their first fatalities since their recent deployment to quell a rebellion.

Two soldiers were killed and three were injured after a mortar bomb landed in their base on Wednesday.

In a statement, the South African army said the “details of this incident are still sketchy”.

The troops are part of a regional force helping DR Congo’s military as it confronts a series of armed groups.

The most prominent is the M23, which has taken up positions on the major routes leading into Goma, the main city in the east of DR Congo.

Th M23’s advance has resulted in tens of thousands being forced from their homes – adding to the the nearly seven million who have fled because of multiple conflicts in the east.

But the South African army has not linked the attack to the M23.

South Africa began deploying troops to eastern DR Congo in December under the banner of the 16-member regional bloc, the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

In all, South Africa will contribute 2,900 troops to the force. Malawi and Tanzania are also sending soldiers.

This deployment comes after an East African force left the country at the DR Congo’s government’s request.

President Félix Tshisekedi hopes that the southern African force will have more success as it has a more robust mandate.

Source: BBC