DR Congo

U.N. team to investigate alleged massacre of Congolese villagers

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Nairobi/Kinshasa (dpa) - A team of forensic experts and human rights officers is investigating a reported massacre of dozens of villagers in northeastern Congo, many of whom allegedly were burned alive in their huts, U.N. officials said Tuesday.

"We're going there to gather evidence that might help us find out who did this. All we have now is the testimony of the survivors,'' said Kemal Saiki, spokesman for the U.N. mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The alleged attack occurred over the weekend in the remote village of Mtulumamba, near the South Kivu's provincial capital of Bukavu.

Villagers have reported that well-armed attackers corralled at least 39 people, mostly women and children, into their huts before setting them ablaze.

On Monday, U.N. peacekeepers visiting the village confirmed that some of the huts had been burnt to the ground, and reported seeing two freshly dug mass graves.

Many witnesses identified the attackers as Rwandan Hutu rebels, who have launched numerous raids on villages in Congo's volatile northeastern provinces, killing thousands.

A top commander for the rebel group, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, known by the French acronym FDLR, called the U.N.-sponsored radio station in Congo to strenuously deny his group's involvement in the alleged massacre.

The U.N. Congo mission has been trying to disarm and repatriate thousands of FDLR troops roaming the DRC countryside, but Rwanda's government has so far been reluctant to welcome them back, claiming that many of them should face trial for taking part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. dpa rth ch

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