DR Congo

DR Congo: UN condemns recent massacre of civilians in South Kivu

The United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) today spoke out against a recent massacre in the country's troubled east, calling on the authorities to find and punish those responsible.

In a news release, MONUC confirmed that on the night of 26 May, a group of 10 to 12 militiamen, purported to be with "FDLR/Rastas," attacked the villages of Nyabuluze and Muhungu in the South Kivu Province, killing 18 civilians, among them women and children, and wounding 27. A dozen and a half people were also abducted in the same incident.

The mission said it "strongly and unequivocally condemns this horrible massacre of innocent civilians," noting that the victims were all killed or wounded in their sleep by attackers who "chose machetes, bayonets, knives and clubs over firearms to kill silently and avoid detection."

Notes were left on the bodies of their victims, in which the attackers claimed that these atrocities were in reprisals to the operations led against them by the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC), according to MONUC.

As the perpetrators attempted to raid Chihamba, a third village in the same area, a patrol of UN Pakistani peacekeepers opened fire, forcing them to flee into the nearby forests, and "thereby preventing another bloodbath," MONUC said.

The DRC's army (FARDC), supported by MONUC units, subsequently conducted operations in the area, leading to the recovery of four of the abductees, but the mission cited unconfirmed reports indicating that 12 bodies were later recovered in the same forest area.

A United Nations assessment team composed of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), along with MONUC, was dispatched to the area shortly before noon today, as part of the UN humanitarian Quick Response Mechanism.

MONUC said protection of civilians is at the core of its mandate "and, without this timely intervention, the toll would have been undoubtedly much higher."

The mission reiterated that the security of the Congolese people and the territorial integrity of the DRC is the first responsibility of its Government, its Armed Forces and its National Police.

It called on the Congolese authorities "to use all necessary means so that those responsible for these heinous crimes are pursued, and brought to justice."