Congo militia ambushes and beheads 40 policemen
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