101 killed as sol­diers clash with mil­i­tants in Congo

The Star Late Edition - - WORLD -

AT LEAST 101 peo­ple are re­ported to have been killed by sol­diers in clashes be­tween mil­i­tary forces and mem­bers of the Ka­muina Ns­apu mili­tia in cen­tral Demo­cratic Repub­lic of the Congo over the past five days, the UN hu­man rights wing said.

Some 39 in­di­vid­u­als among those killed in the vi­o­lence be­tween Fe­bru­ary 9 and 13 were women, caught in the shoot­ing, when Armed Forces of the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of the Congo (FARDC) sol­diers opened fire in­dis­crim­i­nately with ma­chine guns when they saw mili­tia fighters, Liz Throssell, a spokesper­son for the Of­fice of the UN High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights (OHCHR), told the me­dia at a bi­weekly news brief­ing at the UN Of­fice at Geneva (UNOG), cit­ing in­for­ma­tion re­ceived from sev­eral sources.

The mili­tia mem­bers where re­port­edly armed mainly with ma­chetes and spears.

“We are deeply con­cerned at the re­ported high num­ber of deaths, which if con­firmed would sug­gest ex­ces­sive and dis­pro­por­tion­ate use of force by the sol­diers,” said Throssell, not­ing that the UN Joint Hu­man Rights Of­fice is seek­ing to ver­ify the ex­act num­ber of vic­tims.

Call­ing on the FARDC sol­diers to abide by stan­dards un­der na­tional law and in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights law in their re­sponses and urg­ing the mil­i­tary com­man­ders to re­in­force this mes­sage with their troops, she pleaded for re­straint to be ex­er­cised and force to only be used when nec­es­sary and pro­por­tion­ate to the threat, “to min­imise dam­age and in­jury and to re­spect and pre­serve hu­man lives”.

Ac­cord­ing to OHCHR, this lat­est vi­o­lence – said to have oc­curred in and around the town of Tshim­bulu in DR Congo’s Ka­sai Cen­tral Prov­ince – fol­lows “atroc­i­ties” com­mit­ted by both sides it has doc­u­mented since Au­gust last year, when a cus­tom­ary chief (af­ter whom the Ka­muina Ns­apu mili­tia is named) was killed by the armed forces.

Call­ing on the au­thor­i­ties for a full and in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the lat­est vi­o­lence, the UN hu­man rights of­fice of­fered its sup­port to in­ves­ti­ga­tions into oth­ers al­le­ga­tions of se­ri­ous hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions and abuses com­mit­ted in the con­text of the on­go­ing con­flict in Ka­sai Cen­tral Prov­ince by the FARDC and the mili­tia.

“Given the on­go­ing vi­o­lence, we also re­it­er­ate our call for in­creased ef­forts to find durable so­lu­tions to con­flicts with cus­tom­ary chiefs in Ka­sai Cen­tral Prov­ince,” said Throssell. ANA

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo (FARDC) mil­i­tary per­son­nel on pa­trol near Beni in North Kivu prov­ince.

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