By SALEH MWANAMILONGO, Associated Press
KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — A United Nations drone was damaged on Wednesday after sliding off the runway into the grass while trying to land in the eastern Congo city of Goma, the U.N. special representative for the country said.
The drone, part of a new program to monitor armed groups in the country's conflict-ridden eastern region, is currently inoperable but will be able to fly again after repairs, Martin Kobler told several reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York.
The incident occurred as the 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.
Last March 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.
The first of five drones was launched in December, with the peacekeeping mission saying they could provide "essential" surveillance of armed groups and civilians affected by their actions.
"We are currently conducting an investigation to determine the precise technical causes of this incident," Basse said.
Associated Press writer Edith M. Lederer contributed reporting from the United Nations.
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