Congo army accused of rape and murder

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The Independent Online

Government troops are raping, killing and robbing civilians in the same area of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo where militias carried out mass rapes more than two months ago, a top United Nations envoy said.

Margot Wallstrom, who is responsible for UN efforts to combat sexual violence in conflict, told the Security Council that UN peacekeepers have received reports of rapes, killings and looting by government soldiers.

"The possibility that the same communities who were brutalised in July and August by FDLR and Mai Mai elements are now also suffering [at the hands of the army] is unimaginable and unacceptable," she said, referring to the Rwandan-led rebels from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Rwanda.

Following the mass rapes that ended in early August, Congo's President Joseph Kabila ordered a moratorium on mining in the mineral-rich area and sent in thousands of troops to reassert government control.

"I am gravely concerned about the ongoing military operations ... in the Walikale territory and the implications for the protection of civilians," Ms Wallstrom said.

She urged the government to investigate the allegations and deploy national police to the area to protect civilians and investigators. She said she had also asked UN peacekeepers to monitor and report daily on rapes and other sexual violence.