Over 100 DR Congo villagers raped, beaten in attack: MSF

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More than 100 villagers in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo were raped or beaten in a two-day attack this month, the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said Thursday. A local parliamentarian blamed army soldiers for the violence. “Our teams have treated since Tuesday more than 100 people who were victims of rape or physical violence between June 10 and 12,” said Megan Hunter, head of the Dutch branch of MSF in Sud-Kivu province.
The attack was in the Sud-Kivu village of Niakiele, she told AFP. Provincial parliamentarian Jean-Marie Ngoma blamed the assaults on “soldiers from the Congolese army”, headed by an officer named as Colonel Niragire Kifaru who was a former member of the Mai Mai tribal militia. More than 60 women in the village were raped, Ngoma said. The resource-rich eastern DR Congo is an unstable area marked by violence blamed largely on the presence of the army and a host of militia and rebel groups.
On Wednesday, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported looting and atrocities committed overnight on June 10 in the villages of Kanguli, Abala and Niakiele, by almost 200 soldiers led by Kifaru. The UN report did not mention rapes, but Margot Wallstrom, the UN’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, in April told the UN Security Council that the conflict-traumatised country is “the rape capital of the world”.
Colonel Vianney Kazarama, spokesman for the DR Congo armed forces (FARDC) in Sud-Kivu province, denied that Colonel Kifaru was involved in the rapes.