The United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) has sent units to two small villages in south Kivu where some 15 persons were slaughtered overnight by men with machetes.
Witnesses identified the killers as Rwandan Hutus, the mission said. MONUC medical teams are assisting the wounded while armed units are securing the area.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative to the country, William Lacy Swing, strongly condemned the murders and said he plans to visit the villages on Tuesday.
“So far we have directly seen 15 casualties that were killed with machetes and knives.” MONUC spokesman Kemal Saiki told the UN News Service. “We have 12 persons wounded and in critical condition,” he added.
The incident happened in an extremely remote area far from any roads but just 15 kilometres away from a MONUC troop position. “The attack happened between 10:30 and 11:30 pm and as soon as our troops were informed they sent a quick reaction force of 30 men as well as a medical team which arrived on the scene at 1:50,” Mr. Saiki said. “They started gathering testimony from witnesses and today we have another reconnaissance and inquiry mission that went there.”
In July of this year, 36 people in the area were burned alive in their huts. MONUC does not have a mandate to forcibly disarm foreign forces on the DRC territory – this falls to the country’s Government. A tripartite commission comprising Rwanda, the DRC and Uganda set 30 September as the deadline for the disarmament of foreign forces.
Asked about a possible motivation for the attack, Mr. Saiki said it could have been in retaliation for the arrest of two Hutu Rwanda rebels two weeks ago.