March 31, 2015 / 4:48 PM / 3 years ago

South Africa extends Congo troop deployment to end of March 2016

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa said on Tuesday it was extending the deployment of members of its defense force taking part in a United Nations mission in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo by one year.

Almost 1,400 South African soldiers are taking part in the Force Intervention Brigade, part of the U.N. MONUSCO peacekeeping operation in the central African country.

The intervention brigade has been given a special mandate to take on armed groups which have terrorised and created instability for years in the poor but mineral-rich region.

In a brief statement, President Jacob Zuma’s office said the deployment “has now been extended to 31 March 2016”.

U.N. and Congolese troops launched strikes in January against the remnants of a Burundian rebel group based in the rugged borderlands of eastern Congo.

However, MONUSCO in February paused its support for a campaign against another rebel group -- the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) -- after Congo named to top posts two generals suspected of human rights violations.

The operation is now going ahead without U.N. support.

Reporting by Ed Stoddard; Editing by Crispian Balmer

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