Fighting kills more than 3,000 in Congo’s Kasai region: Catholic church

Reuters

Congolese security forces and a militia fighting them have killed at least 3,383 people in the central Kasai region since October, the Catholic church said on Tuesday, in the most detailed report to date on the violence.

Church officials, citing their own sources in the remote territory bordering Angola, said the army had destroyed 10 villages as it sought to stamp out an insurrection.

They also accused the Kamuina Nsapu militia of killing hundreds of people, destroying four villages and attacking church property in a campaign to drive out central government troops.

No one was immediately available to comment from the militia or Democratic Republic of Congo’s army, which has dismissed accusations of excessive force in the past.

The clashes have triggered fears of a wider conflict in the central African giant, a tinderbox of ethnic rivalry and competing claims over mineral resources. Wars at the turn of the century killed millions and sucked in neighbouring countries.

The church’s report will carry considerable weight in a country where about 40 percent of the population identifies as Catholic.

Fighting surged in Kasai in August when the army killed a chief who had been calling for central government forces to quit the region, saying it should be left to local leaders.

The violence has stoked political tensions already heightened by President Joseph Kabila’s decision to stay in power beyond the December 2016 end of his mandate. Kasai is an opposition stronghold.

The U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva is due to decide this week whether to authorize an investigation into the Kasai violence. U.N. investigators say they have discovered 42 mass graves.

Congo’s government opposes an international investigation, saying that would violate its sovereignty.

The United Nations says more than 1.3 million people have fled the fighting.

(Reporting by Aaron Ross; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Andrew Heavens)

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DR Congo Kasai conflict: ‘Thousands dead’ in violence

BBC News

A boy holds his teddy bear as he waits with other Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) for a daily food ration at a camp for people fleeing the conflict in the Kasai province on 7 June 2017 in Kikwit.
The UN has called for an investigation into the violence, which has left millions displaced. GETTY IMAGES

More than 3,300 people have been killed in the violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Kasai region since last October, the Catholic Church says.

The figure, reported by Reuters, is from Church sources in the country.

The deaths are the result of clashes between the army and a rebel group, but civilians have also been caught up in the violence.

The UN has reported on the discovery of more than 20 mass graves but has put the death toll so far at about 400.

According to the church, 20 villages have been completely destroyed, half of them by government troops.

The UN human rights chief, Prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, said investigators in Kasai province had identified dozens of mass graves along with harrowing evidence of people being shot, burned or hacked to death.

Image may contain: 2 people, beard

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. UN Photo by Jean Marc Ferré.

Atrocities were being carried out by the security forces and a government-backed militia, known as the Bana Mura, which was set up to help fight a rival group known as the Kamuina Nsapu, Prince Zeid said.

He added that local authorities had denied the UN access to information about what was happening in the region. The UN has said it has evidence that hundreds of villagers from the Luba and Lulua ethnic groups have been killed.

The UN Human Rights Council is likely to vote this week on whether to mandate an independent investigation into the violence following what the group’s commissioner described as horrific atrocities committed in Kasai province.

The Congolese authorities have said they would reject it.

More than a million people have been displaced in the region in the last year and aid workers say the humanitarian response on the ground has so far been inadequate.

Violence erupted in the once peaceful Kasai region last August, after the death of a local leader during fighting with security forces.

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One Response to “Fighting kills more than 3,000 in Congo’s Kasai region: Catholic church”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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