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DR Congo: UN Calls For Investigation Into Clashes

DR Congo: UN calls for investigation into clashes in western province

16 June 2008 - The United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has called for a criminal investigation into human rights violations during clashes between Government forces and a rebel group in Bas Congo province in February and March.

A team led by the UN Office for Human Rights was deployed in Bas Congo province in March to prepare a report on the violent incidents between the Congolese National Police (PNC) and the Bundu Dia Kongo (BDK) armed group.

The report, which was released on Friday, concluded that at least 100 people, mainly BDK members, were killed during the operations launched by the PNC on 28 February 2008, in the province, which lies in the far west of the country.

From October 2007 onward, tensions were reported between BDK members and the local authorities in several Bas Congo cities and villages. On 28 February this year, the Congolese Government launched operations to restore State authority in the whole of the province.

According to the report, these police operations were carried out by the Rapid Intervention Force and the Integrated Police Unit, sent from Kinshasa to respond to a series of criminal acts made by the BDK, which included murder, attacks and the taking over of State authority in certain areas of Bas Congo.

The PNC were deemed responsible for the destruction of more than 200 buildings - including churches, houses of BDK members as well as houses of civilians with no links to the BDK - in several Bas Congo villages, as well as the looting of many houses in the province.

More than 150 BDK members were arrested during the violence, and several of them were victims of torture or cruel and degrading treatment.

The mission, known as MONUC, recommended that that the Congolese Government provide sufficient training and equipment to the PNC to manage situations such as those in Bas Congo, and called for an investigation "so that the presumed authors of these criminal acts are judged and condemned in accordance with the law."

ENDS

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