United Nations Peacekeeper Killed And Pilot Injured After Helicopter Targeted By Sniper In Congo

A United Nations peacekeeper has been killed after the helicopter he was flying in was targeted by a sniper in Congo.

Photo shows the bullet hole on a helicopter that came under fire in Goma, Congo, undated. Sergeant Vusi Mabena reportedly died, and Major Omolemo Matlapeng was injured after the incident. (Newsflash)

The helicopter pilot was also injured in the attack, which the United Nations has branded a war crime.

Sergeant Vusi Mabena, a South African soldier and flight engineer, reportedly died in the attack and pilot Major Omolemo Matlapeng was injured after their Oryx helicopter came under fire in Goma, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on Sunday,5th February.

Mabena reportedly died before the helicopter could reach Goma Airport after the bullet hit him in the chest.

The pilot was reportedly hit in the shoulder by the same bullet and had surgery after the helicopter landed.

The deadly bullet was reportedly fired from a 7.62 calibre Dragunov sniper rifle.

Messages of condolences have been pouring in from South Africa, with a spokesperson for the South African Ministry of Defence (SANDF), named as Siphiwe Dlamini in local media, saying: “A crew member was fatally shot, another suffered injuries but managed to continue flying the chopper and landed safely at Goma Airport.”

Photo shows Sergeant Vusi Mabena, Major Omolemo Matlapeng, and Captain Mathew Allan (from left to right), undated. Sergeant Vusi Mabena reportedly died, and Major Omolemo Matlapeng was injured after an Oryx helicopter came under fire in Goma, Congo. (@mathew.allan.5/Newsflash)

Amadou Ba, a spokesman for the UN’s MONUSCO mission, said the deadly incident happened in the afternoon during a flight to Goma after the Oryx took off from the city of Beni.

Captain Mathew Allan, from Durban, paid tribute to his fallen comrade on Facebook, saying: “I will never forget you brother! One in a million kind of guy on the ground and in the air! Memories with you will never be forgotten! Rest in peace brother.”

The eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is home to a number of armed groups including rebels who have been fighting against the government in recent months.

The government forces are supported by a UN mission known by its French acronym MONUSCO, as part of its mandate to protect civilians.