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Leading Rights Group Says DRC Brutally Represses Political Foes

A leading human rights group says Congolese state security forces have killed an estimated 500 people who were considered opponents of the government.

Human Rights Watch said in a report released Tuesday that President Joseph Kabila ordered his security forces to "crush" or "neutralize" his political enemies.

The report says Mr. Kabila's security forces have also arrested some 1,000 perceived political opponents in the last two years. It says government agents regularly whip detainees and keep them in chains for weeks on end, sometimes forcing them to sign trumped-up confessions.

HRW says agents dump dead bodies in the Congo River, or bury them in mass graves. It says Kabila's government has blocked international groups from investigating its abuses.

There was no immediate reaction to the report from DRC officials.

The report notes that the international community has kept quiet about human rights abuses in the DRC and has instead focused on the government's ongoing struggle with rebels in the country's east.

Many of those arrested or killed were followers of defeated presidential candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba or supporters of the political group Bundu Dia Kongo.

Journalists who expose the government's abuses have been threatened, and the government has shut down several opposition radio and television stations.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.