A United Nations team investigating a report that rampaging gunmen killed at least 25 people during three days of murder, rape and arson last month in a heavily forested district in the eastern area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has found bodies in shallow graves and are sending more investigators this week.
According to Jacqueline Chenard, a spokesperson for the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC), some bodies were seen "coming out of the mud'' in Lukweti, a village 200 kilometres northeast of the North Kivu provincial capital, Goma.
Villagers reported that about 40 people were killed, including some in an area that could not be reached because the departing attackers had destroyed a bridge connecting one part of the village to the other, she said Saturday.
The rebels also burned down about 150 homes, Ms. Chenard added.
The marauders were identified variously as Rwandan rebels involved in the 1994 genocide, members of the formerly most important Congolese rebel group, the Congolese Rally for Democracy, (RCD) and Mayi-Mayi tribal militias who were allied with the former DRC Government in the five-year civil war that ended last June with the formation of a multi-factional Transitional Government.
Meanwhile, two UN peacekeeping soldiers in the Nepalese battalion, deployed in the Ituri provincial town of Mahagi, died in a convoy on Sunday and three others were injured when two tyres on their vehicle burst simultaneously. The two deaths brought to 36 the number of MONUC members who have died since the establishment of the mission in November 1999.