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UN Peacekeepers Extend Patrols in Congo

The U.N. peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo is extending special patrols another week in an area where more than 240 women and children were raped in recent weeks.

Wednesday's move came a day after U.N. Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Atul Khare said U.N. troops had failed the victims of recent mass rapes in eastern Congo.

The U.N. peacekeepers began increasing patrols last week in effort to better protect people in the villages of Pinga, Kibua and Walikale in North Kivu province.

They are also increasing surveillance in the area to identify armed groups responsible for the rapes along a 21-kilometer road in North Kivu between July 30 and August 2.

The special patrols will run until September 15.

The United Nations has received criticism about the attacks because the mass rapes happened within kilometers of a U.N. base.

Atul Khare has recommended the Security Council impose targeted sanctions on the leaders of the FDLR - the Rwandan Hutu rebel group - and the Mai Mai, the Congolese militia, if it is proven they instructed their men to carry out the rapes.

At least 267 more rapes occurred in eastern Congo throughout August. Khare said around 15,000 rapes are reported in Congo each year.