Eastern DR Congo clashes kill 100 in a week: group
05/22/2012 16:46 GMT
KINSHASA, May 22, 2012 (AFP) - A feud between Rwandan Hutu rebels and the Mai Mai militia in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo last week left more than 100 people dead, including civilians, a local activist said Tuesday.
"A week ago, the Mai Mai attacked the FLDR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), who retaliated by targeting everybody they could find, accusing them of collaborating with the Mai Mai," Nord-Kivu province civil society coordinator Omar Kavota told AFP.
"The Mai Mai who were hunting the FDLR also targeted anybody who stood in their path, claiming they were working with the FDLR," said Kavota, whose umbrella organisation includes rights groups and workers' unions.
"We're talking about more than 100 dead, mostly with knives and machetes."
The FDLR comprise former militiamen who carried out the 1994 massacres against Rwanda's Tutsi minority and fled to the neighbouring DR Congo.
The tit-for-tat killing is only one of several ongoing conflicts between the myriad armed groups based in the remote eastern regions of the vast central African country.
Deadly fighting is also raging in Nord-Kivu province between the regular Congolese army (FARDC) and former rebels who were integrated into the military as part of a 2009 peace deal but recently started to defect en masse, complaining of poor treatment.
In that area, the Mai Mai and the FDLR were reportedly allied to attacks on the army, torching several military camps and barracks.
"A Mai Mai-FDLR coalition managed to set fire to three military barracks before the regular army responded," the same civil society group said in a statement.
Several other sources, including local religious leaders, confirmed that the two armed groups had launched joint attacks against military targets over the past week.
The UN children's agency UNICEF said that around 20 children have been killed in Nord-Kivu and Sud-Kivu provinces in May alone and condemned the violence.
"UNICEF demands that the authors of these acts be tried and punished by competent authorities and reminds all parties that they are directly responsible for protecting the lives of children and all other civilians caught up in a conflict," UNICEF's representative in the DR Congo Barbara Bentein said in a statement.
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