By HADIZA MOHAMMED
JOHANNESBURG- United Nations peacekeepers on Thursday said mass graves containing 49 bodies had been discovered in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, attributing the killings to an ethnic militia group.
Forty-two bodies, including 12 women and six children, were found buried in the village of Nyamamba, in Ituri province.
MONUSCO, said on Twitter that the bodies of seven men were found in the village of Mbogi, about 30 km (19 miles) east of the provincial capital Bunia, the U.N. peacekeeping mission.
“MONUSCO strongly condemns these barbaric and cowardly killings attributed to CODECO,” it said, adding that peacekeepers had launched a patrol in the area over the weekend after hearing about attacks.
“CODECO is one of dozens of militias operating in eastern Congo. Its ranks are drawn mainly from the ethnic Lendu farming community, which carries out regular attacks on Hema herders in Ituri province.
“CODECO, which is split into factions and operates in remote areas, does not have a spokesperson and could not be reached for comment.”
The U.N. mission said at least 195 civilians were killed and 84 kidnapped in attacks attributed to CODECO and a rival militia called Zaire since the start of December, increasing the number of displaced people in Ituri province to more than 1.5 million.
Congo’s government spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Reuters/NAN)