Women and children mutilated in DRC attack, UN says
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The mutilated bodies of at least 21 people, including women, children and one baby, have been found after an attack in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the UN’s peacekeeping mission in the region said on Monday.
The United Nations said most of the victims appeared to have been hacked to death in the December 13-14 wave of attacks in villages in the country’s North Kivu province.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the killings, but they underscore the challenge that DRC’s army and the UN forces face in pacifying the restive east, despite last month’s defeat of the M23 rebels.
"These atrocities will not go unpunished," Martin Kobler, head of the MONUSCO peacekeeping mission, said in a statement.
Three girls appear to have been raped and then beheaded, the statement said, with one of the victims estimated to be just a few months old.
Locals blame Islamists
UN-backed government forces won a rare victory last month against the Tutsi-dominated M23 rebels in the region’s most serious uprising in years.
But dozens of armed groups still hold ground in the rugged mountains along Congo’s eastern border with Rwanda and Uganda.
Jaribu Muliwavyo, a member of North Kivu’s provincial assembly from Beni, told Reuters he believed the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel group that emerged in the 1990s in opposition to the Ugandan government, was behind the attack. The Ugandan government says the group, also known by the acronym ADF-NALU, is allied to elements of Somalia’s al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab movement.
"Terrorism, pure and simple"
“ADF-NALU has been moving for the last two or three weeks and this locality was on their route. ADF-NALU controls this area,” Muliwavyo told Reuters by phone. “It is terrorism, pure and simple.”
The ADF was largely defeated and driven out of Uganda in the mid-2000s, but has held out in the DRC.
The group now has up to 1,400 fighters and has kidnapped about 300 Congolese people over the past year, according to a report prepared by a new UN Intervention Brigade charged with helping Congolese forces hunt down armed groups.
Following the defeat of the M23, the 3,000-strong UN Brigade launched operations earlier this month against the Rwandan FDLR rebellion, which includes Hutu militia members who helped carry out Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)
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