The United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and a contingent of the UN-authorized peacekeeping force in the country have dispatched a joint assessment team to Nyanda to investigate reports that fresh ethnic violence in the tiny northeastern village claimed the lives of at least nine people.
According to the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC), eyewitnesses on the scene described yesterday's early morning rebel-led assault on Nyanda - some 20 kilometres northeast of Bunia in the DRC's volatile Ituri region - which left nine people dead, mostly women and children. When MONUC and the French-led Interim Emergency Multinational Force contingent arrived, residents of the village said several houses were torched and some cattle were stolen.
The villagers alleged that armed ethnic Lendu militiamen, accompanied by some civilians, launched the attack from the nearby Lendu village of Loga, under the control of the Forces Nationalistes Intergrationnistes (FNI) armed group.
MONUC said the recent attack follows one on Fataki and Bule last week, and the assaults on three other villages - Kasenyi, Drod and Nizi - in the strife-torn region in July, all allegedly carried out by FNI forces. The mission expressly condemned the massacre of 22 people at Nizi, again mostly women and children, as "unspeakable acts of savagery," and vowed the perpetrators would be brought to justice.
In late May, the Security Council authorized the deployment of the international emergency force to help stabilize the situation in the resource rich area, where ethnic clashes between Lendu and Hema clans had killed more than 400 people since late Spring. In mid-July, fighting in remote areas of the northeast, particularly in the Kivius, continued, even as the international community was welcoming the installation of a new power-sharing transitional government in the capital Kinshasa.