UN peacekeepers probe reports of attacks on Congolese civilians

UN peacekeepers probe reports of attacks on Congolese civilians

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) said today that it is sending a team to investigate attacks on civilians by a renegade Rwandan militia group, the most recent one having taken 18 lives Monday night.

People in the Ninja chiefdom told Radio Okapi of the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) that at about 9 o'clock Monday night, a Rwandan Hutu militia that has committed itself to disarm and return home, Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR), left its positions in Kabona, accompanied by the Kabona chief, and made its way to Ninja.

The group told the people of Ninja that some renegade Rwandan Hutu rebels, known as "Rastas," were in the area. Just half an hour later, on hearing cries of alarm, the FDLR unit initially found five people dead of machete wounds.

The Interim Governor of South Kivu, Didace Kaningini, later gave the casualty total as 18 dead, 11 seriously wounded and about 50 people abducted, while numbers of people fled, Radio Okapi said.

Meanwhile, MONUC said its troops from Pakistan and Morocco, along with DRC Government troops, supported by an attack helicopter from India, carried out a cordon and search operation in the Katoto area, north of the north-eastern town of Bunia.

The DRC troops killed eight militia members suspected of belonging to the Union of Congolese Patriots-Lubanga (UPC-L) and lost one of its own soldiers, MONUC said.