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Government crackdown on Congo separatists

©

Latest update : 2008-03-19

At least 68 people were killed after government forces launched an operation against members of the Bundu dia Kongo movement in the DRC's western Bas-Congo province. (Report: A. Zajtman)

The hospital of Matadi - a port city and the capital of the Bas Congo region of the Democratic Republic of Congo - is admitting more and more patients. Many have been hit by bullets and some have machete wounds. Even children have not been spared. All of them are members of Bundu dia Kongo, or BDK, an ethnic-based political and religious movement active in the area.

 

BDK is campaigning for reestablishment of the pre-colonial Kongo kingdom, which encompasses parts of present-day Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, and Gabon.

 

One Matadi patient told FRANCE 24, "When the authority hears we are members of Bundu dia Kongo, they come to our homes and arrest us. I was arrested by policemen. They tortured me with sticks and machetes."

 

The Congolese police have launched an operation against the BDK. But the repression has led to abuses. Many houses, some of which belonged to the group, have been burnt down by the police. Starting on Feb. 28, hundreds of soldiers and police battled members of the BDK in an operation that initially began at Luozi, 200 km (125 miles) west of the Congolese capital Kinshasa.

 

Bodies have also been found in a river. An internal report by the UN says at least 68 people were killed but the number of victims could be much higher.

 

Policemen are now guarding the hospital and many wounded people don't dare to come for treatment.

 

Many in Western Congo don't feel represented by the central government and are asking for peace talks to be held.

Date created : 2008-03-17

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