20 April 2017

Congo-Kinshasa: More Mass Graves Unearthed in DRC

Photo: Ofeibea Quist-Arcton/
(file photo).

Kinshasa — United Nations investigators have confirmed the existence of at least 17 further mass graves in a Democratic Republic of the Congo region that is a scene of clashes between soldiers and a local militia. This brings to 40 the number of mass graves documented in the Kasai region. Staff from the UN Joint Human Rights Office and UN Police have confirmed the presence of the additional graves. Fifteen of the mass graves are in a cemetery in the town of Tshimbulu and two in the locality of Tshienk. The UN team gathered information soldiers from the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) had reportedly dug the graves, after clashing with presumed elements of the Kamuina Nsapu militia late in March. At least 74 people, including 30 children, were reported to have been killed by soldiers. Soldiers were also reported to have shot dead at least 40 people, including 11 children and 12 women, in the Nganza commune of Kananga. The majority of the victims were said to have been killed in their homes as soldiers went door to door looking for militia members. UN investigators also received reports that at least two women and three girls had been raped by FARDC soldiers during the same operation. Defence and security forces were alleged to have arrested and detained 27 people, including ten boys and a 15-year-old girl. "The discovery of yet more mass graves and the reports of continued violations and abuses highlight the horror that has been unfolding in the Kasais over the last nine months," said UN commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. DRC is beset by tensions following President Kabila clinging to power at the expiry of his term late 2016. Militia in Kasai are opposed to his stay in power.

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