M23 Rebel Group (Democratic Republic of Congo) M53/59 Praga

The following stills are taken from video footage [1] reportedly showing M23 forces [2] entering the Eastern city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on 20/11/2012.

The author has identified the armoured vehicle shown as a Czechoslovakian built M53/59 Praga SPAAG (Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun).  It is assessed that in this conflict this type would be more readily employed against infantry and lightly armoured vehicles.

The operation of any armoured vehicles by M23 has not been widely observed and only a single M53/59 Praga is evident in the footage.

It is unclear as to how an M53/59 Praga was obtained by M23.  This type was not known to have been operated by DRC Government forces and therefore unlikely to have been captured or subject of defection.  A United Nation report [3] has also indicated support for M23 from neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda, including the supply of weapons, though neither country was a known operator of this type [4].


[1] The original source of this footage is not known but has been syndicated to several news organisations including IBTimes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqchPEyk_rk & [UK] Channel 4 News http://www.channel4.com/news/congo-rebels-claim-control-of-city-as-rwanda-tensions-rise (both accessed 08/12/2012)
[2] The M23 (Mouvement du 23 Mars/March 23 Movement) is a rebel military group engaged in armed conflict with the DRC Government in the eastern province of North Kivu.  The name M23 refers to a peace accord signed on 23/03/2009 between the DRC Government and the former rebel group National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP).  M23 was formed in April 2012 following the mutiny of several hundred Government soldiers, the majority of whom were former members of CNDP, integrated into DRC army under the peace accord.
[3] S/2012/843 http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2012/843 (Accessed 08/12/2012)
[4] Uganda is assessed to be the most plausible source; 1) Uganda procured similar era Czechoslovakian armoured vehicles (OT-64A) (SIPRI) and  could have conceivably received M53/59 Pragas.  2) Libya was a known operator the M53/59 Praga (SIPRI) and Uganda could have indirectly obtained some when Libyan forces were deployed in support of Uganda during the war with Tanzania in 1978-79. 

1 comment:

  1. quite likely they got these m53/59 from former yugoslavia (serbia). look at the typical id number in front of the vehicle.