M23 Announces Killing of Two Romanian Mercenaries in DRC

What’s Happening

The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) M23 rebels have published the identities and passport photos of two Romanian citizens, described as mercenaries, who were killed in an attack carried out by the M23 near the town of Sake on February 7th.

A photo of the M23’s statement on the two Romanians killed, paired with their passport photos and photos of the two killed.

Two Romanian citizens were confirmed to have been killed by Romanian media and the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs last week, but their deaths, and identities, were only announced by the M23 on February 16th.

Victor Railean and Vasile Badea, the two killed in the attack, were a part of a larger group of 20 Romanians, four of which were also injured in the attack. The group was ambushed by the M23 near Sake, and were reportedly under fire for 10 hours before they were able to be evacuated.

Romania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has recommended against travel to the DRC, in particular to the east where the men were killed.

The group of 20 Romanians are reportedly all former soldiers hired by a Romanian man named Horatiu Potra, who runs a PMC company called Asociatia RALF. The men were hired to provide training to Congolese troops, and special security in key areas.

Asociata Ralf

Horatiu, and his company, have reportedly had their hands in quite a few different nations, namely Sierra Leone, the Central African Republic, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ghana, Jordan, and most recently, the DRC.

Asociata RALF has been in the DRC since November of 2022, and has largely reserved its presence to Goma, the capital of the North Kivu province. Reportedly, they operate out of Goma’s Mbiza hotel, which they use as a military base. As a Congolese Presidential Guard who guards the entrance to the hotel said, “it’s now the headquarters of the whites”.

Asociata RALF in particular guards the Goma international airport. When they arrived in 2022, the M23 rebels were on the offensive against the DRC’s government, and Goma was under threat.

Horatiu has previously in 2010 been investigated by Romania’s Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) for drug and arms trafficking, however only ended up being charged with owning a firearm without a license.

The Romanians deployed to the DRC under Asociata RALF, of which there are approximately 100 at any given time, are on three months contracts, and being paid 5,000 euros (5,388 USD) per month.

Asociata RALF operates notedly different from most PMC’s, who typically operate behind the scenes. Asociata RALF has it’s own website, where it advertises its services.

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray is a published journalist and historicist with over 5 years experience in writing. His primary focus is on East and West African affairs.


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