A woman has been raped in public and killed by a rebel militant group in the Democratic Republic of Congo, reportedly because she served the gunmen “forbidden food”.
France 24 said it had compiled footage and witness statements documenting the incident, rare evidence of the atrocities being committed on the front lines of a year-long conflict between the Congolese Army and a rebel movement known as the Kamuina Nsapu.
Witnesses said the gunmen forced the woman's step-son, who was working with her when the food was served, to rape her in the main public square of Luebo, a town of 40,000 people that was briefly occupied by the Kamuina Nsapu earlier this year.
Both were then killed by the armed rebels who, according to the report, then drank some of the victims' blood.
The killing has been linked to protection rituals which are observed by the Kamuina Nsapu during periods of fighting, including the perceived need to avoid certain foods. The woman, who owns a small restaurant, apparently served gunmen fish - which is banned, along with meat, cassava leaves and vines.
She is reportedly seen in the footage being held by the hair and told she “must die” for committing “high treason”.
One resident of the town, who has asked to remain anonymous, told France 24: "She was accused of serving fish to rebels who were fighting on the frontlines in Kabao. They said she gave them beans that contained pieces of a small, local fish.
“Convinced that she had broken their protection charms, the council of rebels led by a man named Kabata sentenced both the woman and the son of her husband’s second wife [the young man was also working there that day] to commit incest in public.”
The witness said people were forced to watch the executions. "We had no choice: to stand up to them would have meant death. We were left to fend for ourselves against the armed militants. The police fled a week earlier.
“The two bodies - decapitated and mutilated - stayed there, out in the open, for two days. Eventually, they were buried on the spot. After the village was liberated, the Red Cross moved in and helped move the bodies to a cemetery.”