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UN Human Rights Team Under Fire in NE DR of Congo

UN Human Rights Team Comes Under Fire in North Eastern DR of Congo

New York, Jun 2 2005 4:00PM

A United Nations human rights team was fired on while investigating the reported rape and abduction of women in the troubled Ituri province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to the UN mission in the country.

The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) reports that the team had flown in by helicopter to the village of Lugo in the north-eastern province to investigate allegations that members of a militia had abducted the women in April, and raped them in a local chapel.

While the team was in the village, Paul Karim, the leader of the militia known as the Nationalist Integrationist Front (FNI), sent someone to ask why they were there. The senior UN peacekeeper with the team said that they were there to speak with the residents, and invited Mr. Karim to meet with them.

Then, while taking off in their helicopter, the team came under a hail of fire, said to have lasted five minutes. They were able to take off without injuries, although the helicopter was damaged.

The Nepalese peacekeepers returned fire and a helicopter gunship, along with more peacekeepers, were sent in to reinforce them. Four peacekeepers were injured in the exchange. There is no word yet on militia casualties.

ENDS

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