United Nations peacekeepers late Monday night confirmed rumors of another massacre in Congo's lawless east over the weekend. They arrived in a remote village to find nothing but ashes and two mass graves that survivors say contain 39 people, mainly women and children who had been burned alive by Rwandan rebels. The attack comes a week after the U.N. stepped up operations to try and persuade foreign gunmen in the area to go home.
District health officers in the remote hills of eastern Congo began spreading the word and Pakistani peacekeepers flown in by helicopters confirmed there had been another massacre in eastern Congo over the weekend.
The U.N. troops arrived in the village of Mtulumamba, some 40 kilometers west of the town of Bukavu, to find a village reduced to ashes and two mass graves that survivors said contained 39 people, mainly women and children, who had been burned alive.
Late on Saturday night, when the attack took place, most of the men fled from the tiny village while the women and children were rounded up, locked their huts and burned alive.
Some in the village blamed the Congo-based Rwandan Hutu rebels which are known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda and have been at the heart of Congo's two wars. Others blame an extremist arm of the FDLR, known as the Rastas.
But many observers and most residents in Congo's South Kivu province say there is little difference between the groups and all gunmen there should be disarmed after a decade of killing and looting.
Some members of the FDLR vowed earlier this year to disarm and return to Rwanda where they would challenge the Tutsi-dominated government in politics. But scarcely any have left the Congo and the killings have continued.
The peacekeeping mission has long been accused of not doing enough to protect civilians, as it is mandated to do.