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Archive for Saturday, July 26, 2003

Report: Congo killings continue despite peacekeepers

Military force offers only ‘illusion of protection,’ aid group says

July 26, 2003

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— Nighttime killings, rapes and abductions have gripped the capital of a volatile region in northeastern Congo despite the deployment of a French-led emergency force in the town, an international aid group said Friday.

The military force began arriving in Bunia on June 6 to stem fighting between rival tribal factions that killed hundreds of people.

But the force "so far has only offered an illusion of protection" for the residents in Bunia, said Hilary Bower, an official with Medecins sans Frontieres.

"Despite the force deployment, war is always close by. At night the fighters enter certain neighborhoods to loot, kill and terrorize civilians. And the ideologues of hate continue to spread their message calling for killings," the group, known in English as Doctors Without Borders, said in a report released Friday.

The French-led emergency force has 1,100 troops in Bunia, the capital of troubled Ituri province, and has forced tribal fighters in the town to either give up their weapons or leave.

But fighters remain on the outskirts, and fighting has continued elsewhere in Ituri -- scene of some of the worst atrocities that have taken place during the five-year civil war in Congo.

On July 20, Lendu tribal fighters hacked 20 people to death in Nizi, 12 miles north of Bunia, Col. Gerard Dubois, the force's spokesman, said in a telephone interview Friday.

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