Operation Unokat

Operation Unokat, also styled Operation UNOKAT, was an offensive undertaken by United Nations peacekeeping forces from 5 December 1961 to 21 December 1961 against the gendarmerie of the State of Katanga, a secessionist state rebelling against the Republic of the Congo in central Africa. The United Nations had tried several times to reconcile the government of the Congo with the State of Katanga, which had declared independence under Moïse Tshombe with Belgian support in 1960.

Operation Unokat
Part of the Congo Crisis

Swedish troops in action during Operation Unokat
Date5 December 1961 – 21 December 1961
Location
Result

ONUC victory

  • Kitona Declaration
Belligerents

ONUC[lower-alpha 1]

Supported by:
Congo-Léopoldville
 Katanga
Supported by:
Rhodesia and Nyasaland
Commanders and leaders
U Thant
K.A.S. Raja
Moïse Tshombe
Strength
4,500 2,500+
Casualties and losses
10–25 killed
34–120 wounded
15 captured
80–206 killed
250–401 wounded
33–58 captured

Operation Morthor and the death of UN General Secretary Dag Hammarskjöld had led to a ceasefire between UN and Katangese forces earlier in the year. This ceasefire, along with the new General Secretary U Thant and a renewed international support, saw UN forces rearm and expand as violence flared between Congolese and Katangan troops. A number of skirmishes with UN forces in the Katangese capital Élisabethville and the establishment of roadblocks by the Katangese to cut off and limit the movement of UN forces within the city called for military action, so the UN launched Unokat.

The Katangese forces were gradually pushed back and UN forces secured Élisabethville. The Katangese agreed to negotiate an agreement with the Congolese central government, which led to the Kitona Declaration stating that Katanga was part of the Congo and planned to re-integrate with the Congo. However, the agreement would not be carried out, forcing the UN to launch Operation Grandslam to forcibly reintegrate Katanga and end the secession.


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