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US urges action to halt scourge of rape in Congo

The US has vowed to help combat widespread sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo as the UN Security Council prepares to hold a session to investigate reports of mass rape by Rwandan Hutu rebels in eastern DRC.

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AFP - The United States said Wednesday it was "deeply concerned" about reports of mass rape in Democratic Republic of Congo, and would work with the local government and the United Nations to bring the culprits to justice.

"The United States is deeply concerned by reports of the mass rape of women and children... by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda... and elements of the Mai Mai, community-based militia groups in eastern Congo," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement.
  

"This horrific attack is yet another example of how sexual violence undermines efforts to achieve and maintain stability in areas torn by conflict but striving for peace," she added.

The United Nations recently reported that at least 154 Congolese civilians were raped and assaulted during an attack by Rwandan Hutu rebels in 13 villages in North Kivu province between July 30 and August 2. Other UN officials put the number raped in recent weeks at 179.

UN Secretary General Bank Ki-moon on Tuesday expressed outrage at the attacks and sent his Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Atul Khare to Congo to investigate.

Clinton said the United States has "repeatedly condemned the epidemic of sexual violence in conflict zones around the world, and we will continue to speak out on this issue for those who cannot speak for themselves."

She said the United States "will do everything we can to work with the UN and the DRC government to hold the perpetrators of these acts accountable, and to create a safe environment for women, girls, and all civilians living in the eastern Congo."
 

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