M23 rebels killed at least 131 civilians in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo late last month as part of a campaign of murder, rape, kidnapping and looting, the United Nations has said.
Authorities in Kinshasa had earlier saidmore than 270 people were killed in the M23 attacks in North Kivu province. The group denied being behind the massacre, blaming “stray bullets” for the deaths of just eight civilians.
In a preliminary investigation released on Thursday into the November 29-30 massacres in the villages of Kishishe and Bambo, the UN peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO, and the Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) found the killings were undertaken in retaliation for clashes between M23 and rival armed groups.
“The victims were arbitrarily executed with bullets or bladed weapons,” the UN said in a statement.
It said that 102 men, 17 women and 12 children were killed by bullets or other weapons.
“Eight people were wounded by bullets and 60 others kidnapped. At least 22 women and five girls were raped,” it added.
Investigators interviewed 52 victims and direct witnesses, and various other sources in Rwindi, about 20km (12 miles) from Kishishe, where survivors and witnesses had taken refuge, the UN said. Investigators could not go to the affected villages because of security concerns.
Witnesses told the investigators that members of M23 broke down doors, shot civilians, looted property and burned houses in the villages. They also said that most of the survivors were prevented by M23 from leaving the ransacked villages.
BY ALJAZEERA NEWS