Congo mili­tia am­bushes and be­heads 40 po­lice­men

New Straits Times - - World -

KINSHASA: Mem­bers of a mili­tia am­bushed and be­headed about 40 po­lice of­fi­cers on Fri­day in the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo, of­fi­cials said on Satur­day.

In re­cent months, prov­inces in the Ka­sai re­gion, in south-cen­tral Congo, have been the scene of fight­ing be­tween po­lice and a lo­cal tribal mili­tia called Ka­muina Ns­apu. Vi­o­lence in the area has claimed more than 300 lives since Au­gust and dis­placed more than 200,000 peo­ple.

Mil­i­tary author­i­ties re­ported on Fri­day that they had lost con­tact with a po­lice con­voy from here that was mak­ing its way to Kananga, south­east of the cap­i­tal.

François Kalamba, the speaker of the Ka­sai pro­vin­cial assem­bly, con­firmed on Satur­day that the con­voy had been am­bushed by Ka­muina Ns­apu fight­ers be­tween the city of Tshikapa and Kananga, and that about 40 of­fi­cers had been de­cap­i­tated.

The cen­tral re­gion of the coun­try is par­tic­u­larly volatile be­cause of an in­sur­gency, with fre­quent clashes be­tween mili­tia fight­ers and the mil­i­tary and se­cu­rity forces, de­spite the pres­ence of United Na­tions peace­keep­ers. Civil­ians are of­ten caught up in the vi­o­lence.

Last week, the Con­golese mil­i­tary’s au­di­tor-gen­eral an­nounced that seven of­fi­cers had been ar­rested and charged with war crimes after a video sur­faced last month de­pict­ing sol­diers shoot­ing civil­ians in Ka­sai-Cen­tral prov­ince, a mas­sacre that left at least 13 dead.

Five other videos ap­pear­ing to show mem­bers of the mil­i­tary shoot­ing civil­ians are also cir­cu­lat­ing on so­cial net­work­ing plat­forms.

Amid the mount­ing ac­cu­sa­tions of vi­o­lence against civil­ians, and the dis­cov­ery of 10 mass graves dug in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary in Ka­sai-Cen­tral, the chief of the UN peace­keep­ing mis­sion in Congo urged the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil this week to press the gov­ern­ment to open an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into pos­si­ble hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions. Some elected lead­ers and hu­man rights ad­vo­cates in Congo have called for an in­de­pen­dent in­ter­na­tional in­quiry.

This month, two UN of­fi­cials were among six peo­ple ab­ducted in the Ka­sai-Cen­tral prov­ince by un­known as­sailants. NYT

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