Kiwanja, DR Congo: Channel 4 News' Jonathan Miller & UN peacekeepers find bodies of civilians shot dead in cold blood (Update 3)
HEART OF DARKNESS
Our team in Congo are working on another disturbing film tonight, having come across what appears to be the remains of a refugee camp.
It is not clear to us yet exactly who has done the destruction, but there have been widespread allegations against the Rwandan-backed rebels that they have engaged in such acts, and the UN says such allegations have credibility.
Jonathan Miller tells us that he has found the bodies of men, women and children in the remains. It sounds from his description to be truly desperate.
Viewers may find images in the following video report disturbing.
November 06, 2008 video report "DR Congo clashes claim more victims" by Channel 4 News' foreign affairs correspondent Jonathan Miller. Jonathan has covered conflicts, revolutions, natural and unnatural disasters and has won three Royal Television Society awards for Channel 4 News.
DR Congo clashes claim more victimsClick here to watch Jonathan's disturbing report "Congo clashes claim more victims".
As thousands flee eastern DR Congo, Channel 4 News finds evidence of brutality by Tutsi rebel forces.
This programme has discovered the bodies of civilians in the eastern Congo - victims of rebel troops who have been fighting government forces.
We came across at least a dozen corpses after Tutsi rebels retook the town of Kiwanja, in the east of the country, following two days of bitter fighting.
Conflict and instability has caused an estimated 250,000 people to flee their homes in the past month. Kiwanja has changed hands several times in the past two weeks.
Our foreign affairs correspondent Jonathan Miller, who has been based in the eastern capital Goma for the past week, travelled to Kiwanja, on the northern edge of rebel-held territory.
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Rebel commander General Laurent Nkunda tells Channel 4 News he is acting in the best interests of the DR Congo
November 03, 2008 Channel 4 News video report "Congo's Nkunda defends actions" by Jonathan Miller reporting from DR Congo.
Congo's Nkunda defends actionsClick here to watch Jonathan's important report "Congo's Nkunda defends actions".
The renegade general whose rebel army has been fighting government troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo has defended his actions in an interview with Channel 4 News.
A quarter of a million people have been displaced by the conflict, but Laurent Nkunda told this programme he was acting in the best interests of his country.
For the first time in a week, much needed aid left Goma for rebel-held areas in the north east. But instead of finding tens of thousands of refugees - aid workers discovered empty camps in and around the town of Rutshuru.
The UN fears people have fled into the bush to escape rebel fighters. Others went looking for food and shelter themselves.
David Miliband interview
Krishnan Guru-Murthy talks to the Foreign Secretary David Miliband from Marseilles, where he was reporting back on his visit to the Congo to other European ministers.
Channel 4 News asks him if the government has linked British aid to Rwanda with a demand for the country to stop supporting the rebels in the Congo.
Further links related to this article:
November 02, 2008 Channel 4 News video report: "Tensions rise as ceasefire ends" - Jonathan Miller reports from Goma as the three-day ceasefire between government and rebel troops comes to an end. With additional reporting from Jane Dodge.
November 01, 2008 Channel 4 News video report: "UK calls for vital aid for Congo" - Jonathan Miller has been to one of the biggest refugee camps near Goma, DR Congo.
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Tutsi forces from the north loyal to General Laurent Nkunda
Excerpt from October 31, 2008 Channel 4 News report by Lucy Manning. According to Channel 4 News' website, Lucy is a reporter specialising in home affairs and has covered Abu Izzadeen's verbal attack on John Reid, the riots in Paris, plans for safe houses for herion users and the Madrid bombings.
Britain and France head to CongoClick here to watch Lucy's report "Britain and France head to Congo".
Tutsi forces from the north loyal to General Laurent Nkunda in the past days have moved south towards the city of Goma.
They currently hold positions just north of Goma's city limits. Congolese government forces have retreated to the south west after a ceasefire was brokered two days ago.
UN troops have formed an area of separation around Congolese government troops and along the road in rebel-held areas.
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History of the conflict between Nkunda's rebels and the Congolese army
October 31, 2008 video report by Lindsey Hilsum, international editor and China correspondent for Channel 4 News, explains the history of the conflict between Laurent Nkunda's rebels and the Congolese army.
Lindsey recently had a world exclusive interview in Khartoum, Sudan with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
Congo conflict - the backgroundFurther links related to this article
"In 1994, a racist government told Rwanda's majority Hutu people to massacre their Tutsi neighbours. It was genocide.
"When a new Tutsi-led regime took power, the Hutus, many of whom had taken part in the killing, fled to the Congo.
"War followed them: Rwanda's Tutsi-led government pursued the Hutu genocidaires, who were hiding in the Congolese bush.
"The government of Congo joined forces with the Hutus. Four million died in the subsequent conflict.
"At one point five African countries were involved in the war in Democratic Republic of Congo. Local Tutsi rebels fighting Congolese forces were backed by troops from Rwanda and Uganda.
"The Congolese government then called on Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia, all of whom sent troops.
"The result was plunder and slaughter. Until a peace deal was signed, foreign armies, local warlords and government soldiers fought for control of mines producing tin, copper, coltan and cassiterite - valuable minerals.
"As foreign armies withdrew, new local warlords emerged, including Laurent Nkunda, a Congolese Tutsi backed by Rwanda. Last year, he celebrated a peace deal with the Congolese government.
"But now, he's breached that. He says he's trying to defeat the last of the Rwandese Hutu genocidaires, to protect the Tutsis. Others say he just wants power and money.
"Now, UN peacekeepers fear the conflict will spread, drawing in neighbouring countries once more."
The five-year-long civil war (which involved five other African countries) ended in 2003.
Democratic elections were held in 2006, and president Joseph Kabila was inaugurated in December. During the election period there was armed conflict in the Congo's capital, Kinshasa, which resulted in civilian casualties.
A peace deal was struck in January 2008 between the Democratic Republic of Congo's government and armed groups, including Nkunda's rebels, but later collapsed.
Democratic Republic of Congo is the size of western Europe and borders nine other countries: Zambia, Angola and Congo to the south and west, Central African Republic and Sudan to the north, and Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania to the east.
The central African country has rich mineral resources, but is one of the poorest in the world.
The population is around 60 million - similar to that of the UK, but half are under 18 years old and only a similar proportion have access to clean water.
The Kivu provinces, focus of the current troubles, lie to the east, on the border with Rwanda. Goma, in North Kivu, has a population of one million.
The UN presence
The UN's peacekeeping mission in Democratic Republic of Congo is its biggest in the world, with 17,000 troops spread across the vast country.
But the agency says its peacekeepers are stretched to the limit.
There are around 6,500 troops in North Kivu. The UN is redeploying troops to support the 850 peacekeepers in the city of Goma.
The UN refugee agency says more than a million people have fled their homes in North Kivu.
It is extremely concerned about the plight of 50,000 people in camps to the north of Goma: the agency said today it was trying to verify reports that several camps in the Kivu town of Rutshuru, about 90km north of Goma, have been forcibly emptied, looted and burned.
Click here to watch Lindsey's report "Congo conflict - the background".
Channel 4 News
October 30, 2008: Chaos in Congo as rebels advance
October 28, 2008: Rwandan genocide haunts Congo
March 27, 2008: Horror of Congo's forgotten war
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UN peacekeepers found the bodies of a dozen civilians in rebel-held village
November 06, 2008 Reuters report (editing by Jon Boyle):
Dozen bodies found in rebel-held Congo village- - -
KIWANJA, DR Congo - UN peacekeepers found the bodies of a dozen civilians on Thursday in an eastern Congo village occupied by Tutsi rebels, witnesses and a UN spokesman said.
A stench of death hung over Kiwanja when journalists and UN troops entered the village, where fighters loyal to rebel General Laurent Nkunda drove out pro-government Mai-Mai militia on Wednesday, sending its inhabitants fleeing in panic.
At least a dozen bodies of adult males, five in one house alone, were visible among the mud-walled and tin-roofed homes, a few of them burned, apparently hit by rockets or grenades.
There was nothing, neither uniforms nor weapons, to indicate the dead had been fighters. Some wore work overalls.
Photo: UN soldiers and journalists found at least a dozen corpses in Kiwanja (AP) Source: BBC report November 06, 2008: DR Congo 'civilian deaths' probed
Map pinpointing Kiwanja, DR Congo
Source: BBC report November 06, 2008: DR Congo 'civilian deaths' probed
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UPDATE 1 on Friday 07 November 2008
From Congo Watch Ed: Saw this on Twitter:
channel4news: AM meeting: team in Congo news gathering while suffering from infestation of flees....Maybe they mean fleas or flies. Whatever, an infestation of anything sounds bad. I know of someone who rode a camel in Tunisia for half an hour and got a backside full of flea bites. Itchy ones, hundreds of them... Heh.
Twitter / channel4news 5/11/08 09:55
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UPDATE 2 on Friday 07 November 2008
Excerpt from today's Channel 4 News Snowmail authored by Krishnan Guru-Murthy:
ANOTHER SEASON IN HELL- - -
Our team in DR Congo have been telling us of another dangerous and harrowing day. Fighting has broken out between the Rwandan-backed rebels and government forces. There has been considerable artillery and gunfire. Another refugee camp has been emptied as people are either driven out or flee for safety.
There is supposed to be a peace conference going on but there is little sign of any progress, following reports by our team and others yesterday about civilians apparently executed in their homes by rebels after refusing to leave.
The United Nations has been accused of failing to protect people that were close to peacekeeping troops. The UN has in turn announced an investigation into what happened and says its findings will be passed to the International Criminal Court.
Watch Jonathan Miller’s report from lunchtime today: http://tinyurl.com/5setsr: Congolese Tutsi rebels and government troops exchange fire in east Congo, just a few miles from a refugee camp. The latest violence erupted near the Kibati camp causing a stream of refugees to flee back towards the provincial capital of Goma 10 miles away.
UPDATE 3 on Sunday 09 November 2008
The rebel forces of Gen Laurent Nkunda and pro-government militias in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been accused of war crimes by the UN.
The alleged crimes took place in the eastern town of Kiwanja this week when it was captured by Gen Nkunda's forces.
See Congo Watch Sunday, November 09, 2008: UN alleges war crimes in Kiwanja, DR Congo