Congo lodges U.N. protest, accuses rebels of burying women alive

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The Independent Online

Congo's government have lodged a protest with the United Nations following accusations that insurgents and their foreign allies buried 15 women alive in the country's wartorn east.

Congo's government have lodged a protest with the United Nations following accusations that insurgents and their foreign allies buried 15 women alive in the country's wartorn east.

According to a Congolese non-government civic group, the Collective of Organizations and Youth Associations, the women were killed between November 15 to 22 in the villages of Bulinzi, Bogombe and Ngando about 140 kilometers southwest of the rebel stronghold of Bukavu in the eastern South Kivu region.

The collective, which released the names of the alleged victims, said the perpetrators were Rwandan members of a Congolese rebel faction that had accused the women of supporting traditional Mayi-Mayi fighters backing the government of President Laurent Kabila.

Congo's rebels are backed by combatants and military equipment from neighboring Rwanda and Uganda while on the other side of the divide, Kabila's government has the support of Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola.

Congo's human rights minister, Leonard She Okitundu, said his government had protested to the U.N. Security Council and was pushing for United Nations military observers to expose rebel atrocities he described as "barbaric."

Only 62 of 90 liaison officers are in the field because the Congo government and rebel forces have not guaranteed full security and freedom of movement for them, U.N. officials say. Until their survey is finished, the United Nations cannot go ahead with the deployment of 500 military observers.

Although a peace agreement between the rebels, government and their foreign allies was concluded in August in Lusaka, Zambia, the pact has been threatened by renewed fighting.

Both sides have accused each other of regular cease-fire violations and trade accusations of human rights abuses that are difficult to independently verify given the remoteness and inaccessibility of the battle zones in this vast, heavily-forested central African country.

Late last month, Ugandan authorities accused Mayi-Mayi fighters of attacks on Congolese towns held by Ugandan forces and their rebel allies. Fighting was described as fierce and the Italian missionary news service MISNA reported about 200 combatants killed before the attackers were repelled.

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