UN surveillance drone crashes in eastern DR Congo

A surveillance drone belonging to the UN's peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo sits in a hangar in the city of Goma on December 3, 2013 (AFP Photo/)

Kinshasa (AFP) - A surveillance drone from the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo crashed in the east of the country Monday without causing any injuries, the UN said.

The unmanned aircraft went down "shortly after taking off from the airport in Goma," Charles-Antoine Bambara, a spokesman for the UN mission in the country (MONUSCO), told AFP.

The drone landed in an uninhabited area some three kilometres (almost two miles) north of Goma, the capital of DR Congo's strife-torn North Kivu province. The crash caused no injuries or damage, Bambara said.

The cause of the crash is under investigation, he said, adding that MONUSCO still has four operational drones after another drone crashed near Goma in January, also without causing any injuries.

The UN drone programme was launched in December 2013.

The drones, which are unarmed and exclusively equipped for reconnaissance flights, are intended to help the UN watch over the mineral-rich North Kivu province, prey to dozens of armed movements which troops have been ordered to neutralise.

Despite the boost from the surveillance drones to the UN mission, rival groups that have terrorised local residents for over two decades, continue to wreak havoc in the area.

This month alone, Ugandan rebels killed more than 80 civilians in North Kivu in two separate massacres, sparking fresh calls for the UN forces to do more to protect the local population.