Con­golese mili­tia kills 42 po­lice in am­bush


beni, congo — A Con­golese mili­tia group de­cap­i­tated 42 po­lice­men after am­bush­ing them in the in­creas­ingly vi­o­lent Ka­sai re­gion, a lo­cal of­fi­cial said Satur­day.

Mem­bers of the Kamwina Ns­apu mili­tia staged the at­tack be­tween the cities of Tshikapa and Kananga in cen­tral Ka­sai on Fri­day, ac­cord­ing to Ka­sai Assem­bly Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Kalamba. The mili­tia freed six po­lice­men be­cause they spoke the lo­cal Tshiluba lan­guage, he said. Ka­sai Gov. Alex Kande Mupompa said in­ves­ti­ga­tions were un­der­way.

Large-scale vi­o­lence erupted in the Ka­sai re­gion in Au­gust when se­cu­rity forces killed the Kamwina Ns­apu leader. More than 400 peo­ple have been killed and more than 200,000 dis­placed since then, ac­cord­ing to the U.N.

The U.N. in re­cent days re­ported the dis­cov­ery since Jan­uary of more than two dozen mass graves in three Ka­sai prov­inces. And five videos have emerged in re­cent weeks that ap­pear to show Con­golese sol­diers fir­ing on mili­tia mem­bers.

While the vi­o­lence is linked to lo­cal power strug­gles, there are also clear ties to Congo’s po­lit­i­cal cri­sis, ac­cord­ing to Hu­man Rights Watch. Anger has been grow­ing in the coun­try at longde­layed pres­i­den­tial elec­tions, and dozens were killed in De­cem­ber amid protests as Pres­i­dent Joseph Ka­bila stayed on past the end of his man­date. A deal reached be­tween the rul­ing party and op­po­si­tion to hold elec­tions by the end of this year, with­out Ka­bila, re­mains frag­ile as the U.N. urges its im­ple­men­ta­tion.

Mili­tia mem­bers have re­cruited large num­bers of chil­dren and used crude weapons to at­tack se­cu­rity forces and some gov­ern­ment build­ings in Ka­sai and other prov­inces, Hu­man Rights Watch said.

The de­cap­i­ta­tions were an­nounced as the rights group on Satur­day called on Congo’s gov­ern­ment to co­op­er­ate with U.N. ef­forts to lo­cate ex­perts, in­clud­ing an Amer­i­can and a Swede, who have been miss­ing in the Ka­sai re­gion for nearly two weeks. The U.N. peace­keep­ing mis­sion in Congo said its move­ments have been re­stricted by se­cu­rity forces in Kananga, the pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal of Ka­sai Cen­tral.

Michael Sharp of the United States, Zaida Cata­lan of Swe­den, in­ter­preter Betu Tsh­in­tela, driver Isaac Kabuayi and two mo­tor­bike driv­ers van­ished March 12 near a re­mote vil­lage south of Kananga. They were look­ing into re­cent large-scale vi­o­lence and al­leged hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions by the Con­golese army and lo­cal mili­tia groups.

Their dis­ap­pear­ance is the first time U.N. ex­perts have been re­ported miss­ing in Congo, Hu­man Rights Watch said, and it is the first recorded dis­ap­pear­ance of in­ter­na­tional work­ers in the Ka­sai prov­inces.

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