Wednesday, March 31, 2010

UN probe into alleged massacre in remote northeast of DR Congo continues

UN probe into alleged massacre in remote northeast of DR Congo continues
From UN News Centre, 29 March 2010:
LRA attacks in DR Congo

Photo: Refugees who fled LRA attacks in DRC being registered in Gangura, southern Sudan

United Nations inquiries are continuing into a recent massacre of civilians in the remote northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), reportedly by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a UN spokesperson confirmed today.

The killings are reported to have occurred in the village of Mabanga in December, and human rights groups say at least 320 people were murdered. Machetes, axes and heavy wooden sticks were apparently used to carry out the killings.

Martin Nesirky, the Secretary-General’s spokesperson, told reporters in New York that the UN cannot confirm the exact number of victims until the formal investigation by the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC (known as MONUC) has been completed.

The extreme remoteness of the area and the fact that witnesses may have moved were delaying efforts to gather reliable information, he said.

Mr. Nesirky said that MONUC strives to provide protection to all civilians in the area, but given the vast size of the territory, peacekeepers were only able to concentrate their efforts on the most populated areas.

The mission, however, continued to provide support to Government troops carrying out operations against the LRA, a notorious rebel group formed in Uganda in the 1980s whose leaders have been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on war crimes charges.

Asked about MONUC’s strategy in dealing with the LRA, whose members often cross the border into the DRC and other neighbouring countries, Mr. Nesirky noted that the head of MONUC, Alan Doss, had reiterated that the area involved was equivalent to the size of Spain and protecting all civilians at all times was not feasible.

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