U.N. says surveillance drone in Congo slips off runway

by Reuters
Wednesday, 15 January 2014 16:08 GMT

* UN Congo force began using drones last month

* Falco drones used by UN manufactured by unit of Finmeccanica (Writes through with comment from UN, company)

KINSHASA, Jan 15 (Reuters) - An unmanned aircraft used by U.N. peacekeepers in Democratic Republic of Congo slipped off the runway on Wednesday near the eastern town of Goma, the head of the U.N. mission said.

The drone would need to be repaired before it could fly again but none of the surveillance equipment seemed to have been damaged, Martin Kobler, head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission, said in New York.

The United Nations force started using drones - a first for the world body - last month to help it monitor armed groups operating along Congo's border zone with Rwanda and Uganda.

A spokesman for the mission said an investigation was under way but no one had been injured in the incident.

Earlier, a senior official in Congo's interior ministry earlier told Reuters the drone crashed shortly after taking off from Goma.

The Falco drones used by the U.N. force are manufactured by Selex ES, a unit of Italian defence group Finmeccanica . Finmeccanica had no immediate comment. (Reporting by Bienvenu-Marie Bakumanya; Additional reporting by Danilo Masoni in Milan and Michelle Nichols in New York; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Alister Doyle)

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