The United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) will begin Tuesday a full-scale investigation into the killing of at least 17 people in Luofu and Lasiki villages in the restive North Kivu province. 

MONUC said it aims to find and punish the perpetrators who committed the atrocities over the weakened which claimed the lives of innocent civilians in the two villages. It is unclear which armed group was behind the killings due to the fact that there are numerous rebel movements in the restive North Kivu province. 

Madnodje Mounoubai is the spokesman for MONUC. He told VOA that investigators would be working closely with Kinshasa to apprehend the perpetrators and bring them to book.

"As you know, we learned about the killings that happened in Luofo by some armed groups. We have to find out more about what happened in order to identify what group was involved in it. So this is the purpose of the team that we are sending on the ground today," Mounoubai said.

He said there are conflicting reports about the killings, which prompted the United Nations Mission to begin a full-scale investigation to ascertain those behind the crimes committed.

"Of course when those kinds of things happen, there would be different reports. And the purpose of this investigation is to pinpoint the responsibility and to know exactly, if possible, who was behind the killings. As you know different armed groups are operating in the area so we have to make sure which of the groups was involved in the killings," he said.

Mounoubai said the perpetrators of the killings would be dealt with once they are identified.

"Someone needs to take responsibility for what happened and we cannot just blame any group. This is the purpose of the investigation, because sooner or later those perpetrators who are killing innocent civilians will have to respond, they would have to be put to trial. So, we need to investigate every time something like this happens," Mounoubai said.

He said MONUC will be working with Kinshasa in the investigation.

"We as MONUC are partners with the government and so we work closely with the government in whatever situation that happens on the ground," he said.

Mounoubai said Kinshasa is constitutionally mandated to protect the lives of Congolese.

"The responsibility to protect the civilians lies with the government. It is the responsibility of the government to make sure that the civilians get security and we are here to support the DRC government in that sense. So the civilians of course look for their government then most of the time they look at MONUC, because in most of these places we appear to be the only organized structure. So this is the situation: the civilians expect their government to protect them, but in reality they are looking for MONUC because they expect us to do this - they know that the government is not in a position to do it," Mounoubai said.