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Aid Group Condemns Attack on Civilians in Eastern DRC

M23 soldiers demonstrate unarmed combat at Rumangabo military camp, North Kivu April 27, 2013. Rebels are honing their ambush skills to prepare to face a new United Nations force which has a mandate to go on the offensive.
The medical aid group Doctors Without Borders, known by its French acronym MSF, has condemned a brutal attack on civilians living in Mpeti village in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. MSF says frequent attacks by armed groups in the villages and towns of North Kivu province have made it difficult for the group to provide medical assistance.

The village in North Kivu province was attacked on Tuesday by men armed with machetes and bayonets.

Hugues Robert, head of the MSF mission in North Kivu, told VOA his organization is providing treatment to those suffering from serious head injuries.

“From these attacks we have received three patients," said Robert. "These three patients are under intensive care and we hope they recover soon.”

According to MSF, the Mpeti health center treats 300 patients every week.

MSF says recent clashes between armed militias, fighting over the control of the Mpeti area, has forced civilians to leave their homes.

Robert says fighting and insecurity have prevented MSF medical workers from getting to the health center to provide assistance to patients.

“The attack on Pinga and then Mpeti a month ago and now again on Tuesday, of course it was very difficult for us to continue with the operation," said Robert. "Some health centers have been looted by some armed groups during these attacks systematically. Because of this insecurity it has become much difficult to assist regularly the children and to provide assistance in due time to the patients.”

According to MSF, survivors of the attack said they were directly targeted and estimated that dozens of people were killed. Robert says many of the victims died either as a direct result of their injuries or because they were not able to get immediate medical treatment.

The DRC government and a U.N. force have tried for years to subdue the militia and rebel groups that operate in North Kivu. Last year, the army was soundly defeated by one of the most prominent groups, M23, and the region's civilians remain under chronic threat of unrest and violence.