A massacre in Congo has claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians, according to the UN. They believe that rival armed groups are at fault for killing hundreds of civilians in “incomprehensibly vicious” attacks in eastern parts of the country.
The violence has been focused in North Kivu near the Rwandan border, where warring groups have been targeting villages seen as supporting their opponents, reports Reuters.
The killings are taking place while the national army has been diverted to fight the M23, a movement of mutineers. Roger Meece, special representative of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, stated:
“The deterioration of the overall security situation in North Kivu following the M23 mutiny and related ruthless attacks against civilians is extremely alarming.”
The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, stated that the allegations of hundreds killed are still being verified, but preliminary investigations suggest that a large number of people have been killed (mostly women and children). Bloomberg Business Week notes that Pillay went on to say:
“Allegations of hundreds of killings are still being verified. The sheer viciousness of these murders is beyond comprehension. In some cases, the attacks against civilians may constitute crimes against humanity.”
The statement also said that the M23 uprising has allowed other rebel groups to flourish. One such group is the Rwandan ethnic-Hutu rebels, also known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, who are reportedly responsible for several of the attacks in Masisi. Raia Mutomboki, a group that claims to be protecting the Congolese from the FDLR, committed other crimes. The unrest in eastern Congo has displaced more than 500,000 people, according to UN reports.