Congo Investigating Mass Grave in Capital, Government Says

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s justice ministry is investigating a gravesite containing 421 bodies buried last month in the capital, Kinshasa, Media Minister Lambert Mende said.

The corpses are from the morgue at Kinshasa General Hospital and were wrapped in shrouds and buried in accordance with Congolese law, Mende said in an e-mailed statement Thursday. Fifty-seven of the bodies were unidentified, 300 were stillborn babies, and the rest were suspected to be homeless people or abandoned, he said.

Congolese and international human rights groups have called for an independent investigation to determine if some of the dead were killed in a government crackdown on pro-democracy protests in January.

Human Rights Watch, based in New York, and the Kinshasa-based African Association for the Defense of Human Rights say more than 40 people died in the protests. Some families have not located the bodies of relatives who were killed, they say.

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