UN troops heading out to troubled regions of Democratic Republic of Congo

8 October 2003

The head of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) said today that UN troops will begin to fan out next week from their base in the north-eastern town of Bunia to increase military presence in the area where 65 persons were massacred Sunday.

The MONUC chief, William Lacy Swing, said the troops would move out to several sectors outside of the headquarters town of Bunia in Ituri province as part of a programme called "Bunia Without Weapons."

Mr. Swing also said he would visit Kashele, 70 kilometres northeast of Bunia, also in Ituri province, where the bodies of 65 persons, mostly women and children, were discovered on Tuesday. He vowed that perpetrators of the massacre would be brought to justice.

He said the massacre "is a challenge for all of us: the UN Mission, the Transitional Government in Kinshasa, and the Committee of Armed Groups in Ituri."

"We must work together, "he said, "so that such acts do not repeat themselves in Kashele or anywhere else."

The troop movements were made possible by the arrival in the country of a unit of Pakistani soldiers, bringing to 3,500 the number of UN soldiers in Ituri province. With the expected arrival of Nepalese troops the strength in Ituri province should soon reach 5,000, UN spokesmen said.


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