groups in DR Congo's war-torn east province slaughtered more than 200
people including scores of children between April and September, hacking
some to death and burning others alive, the UN said Wednesday.
"At least 264 civilians, including 83 children, were arbitrarily
executed by armed groups in more than 75 attacks on villages between
April and September this year," the office of the UN's High Commissioner
for Human Rights said as it published a report into abuses in the
Democratic Republic of Congo's resource-rich east.
Investigators focusing on the southern town of Masisi in North Kivu
province uncovered evidence of victims being hacked to death with
Others were burnt alive in their homes, investigators found, blaming the
majority of the killings on two armed groups, Raia Mutomboki and their
allies the Mayi Mayi.
Raia Mutomboki is a homeland defence militia whose agenda is to
ethnically cleanse the region, forcing all Kinyarwanda speakers out of
DR Congo. But it has also seized the villagers it purports to be
protecting, using them as porters.
Fighters from an ethnic Hutu militia called Nyatura were also
responsible for killings and other human rights abuses, the UN said,
along with the Rwandan Hutu group the Democratic Forces for the
Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which Kigali suspects includes fighters who
took part in the 1994 genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda.
Following publication of the report -- the result of six missions and
more than 160 interviews with victims and witnesses -- UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay condemned the killings as "the
most serious (human rights violations) we have seen in recent times in
The number of killings could be considerably higher, the UN agency said,
lamenting that security concerns had prevented investigators from
probing other reported violations.
Reflecting the ethnic nature of the slaughter, civilians killed by the
Raia Mutomboki were mostly Hutu, while those killed by the Nyatura were
mainly Tembo people, the UN said.
Chronic unrest in eastern DR Congo over the past 15 years are rooted in
competition for land and natural resources, the Geneva-based agency
said, resulting in violence committed along ethnic lines.
Other human rights violations uncovered by the Geneva-based agency included mass forced displacement and large-scale looting.
Investigators also confirmed four cases of sexual violence involving the rape of 12 women.
The report's publication comes as the Congolese army continues to fight
the M23 rebels in North Kivu, a group formed in May by army mutineers.
The M23, which has dubbed its armed wing the Congolese Revolutionary
Army, was launched by former fighters in an ethnic Tutsi rebel group
that was integrated into the military under a 2009 peace deal whose
terms the mutineers claim were never fully implemented.
Rights groups have also accused the M23 of human rights abuses and of
unleashing a fresh cycle of violence by the region's complex web of
armed groups. AFP