Congo: dozens of bodies found in mass graves after militia attacks in country’s east
United Nations peacekeepers made ‘gruesome discoveries’ of mass graves containing the bodies of 49 civilians in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after receiving reports of attacks on civilians by a local armed group, the UN said this week.
Farhan Haq, deputy spokesperson for the UN Secretary General, told the media that the graves had been uncovered in two villages in northeastern Ituri province, about 30km east of the town of Bunia. “Peacekeepers launched a patrol to the area immediately after receiving reports of attacks on civilians by the CODECO militias over the weekend. This is when they made the gruesome discoveries,” Haq said. Local authorities have said that CODECO — Cooperative for the Development of Congo — militants also abducted a number of women during the attacks on the villages.
The UN is now calling for an investigation that would establish whether the mass graves and the attacks were linked. Haq added that the UN regional peacekeeping operation, or MONUSCO, was “supporting the Congolese judicial system to investigate the attacks” and called “for the perpetrators to be brought to justice”.
Ituri, a restive province bordering Uganda, has seen a spate of violence in recent weeks, after the killing of a teacher belonging to the Lendu community triggered reprisal attacks from CODECO, which claims to represent the ethnic group. The U.N. says more than 1.5 million people have been displaced in Ituri, and the attacks have hampered humanitarian efforts.