Congo Loyalist Militia Executed Dozens in April Rampage, UN Says

  • Human rights office report shows at least 81 people killed
  • Kasai crisis began in August 2016, forcing thousands to flee

A pro-government militia in the Democratic Republic of Congo was backed by Congolese soldiers as it executed dozens of people during a two-week rampage in the central Kasai region in April, the United Nations said.

Protracted violence broke out in Kasai, which comprises five provinces in southern and central Congo, in August 2016 after state forces killed a traditional chief, triggering fighting with a militia of his followers known as Kamwina Nsapu. An armed group, Bana Mura, emerged this year and has received support from the security forces as it’s killed hundreds of people from the ethnic groups from which Kamwina Nsapu recruits, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said in August.

Bana Mura militiamen summarily executed at least 64 people, including nine women and 21 children, and raped at least 41 women and two children during the April 13-26 period in Kasai province’s Kamonia district, the UN’s Congo-based Joint Human Rights Office said Wednesday in a report.

At least some of the crimes were committed with the “active support” of Congolese soldiers, while troops were directly responsible for the extra-judicial killings of at least 17 civilians, it said. Congo Human Rights Minister Marie-Ange Mushobekwa said by phone that she’ll respond later to the allegations.

The violence in Kasai has forced almost 1.5 million people to flee their homes in the past 14 months, some of them to neighboring Angola. The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Oct. 23 that more than 710,000 of that number have returned, “often to extremely precarious situations.”

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