As many as 100 people were killed when the rebel Lord's Resistance Army attacked a village, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the United Nations said on Saturday.The slaughter happened weeks ago, but because the area is so cut off, news of what happened only filtered through at the weekend.
Cornelia Yekpalile, a 23-year-old mum of four, was mutilated by rebels in the attack 18 days ago. She had gone out to fields near her village, Kpizimbi, in north east Congo, to pick food to cook for lunch. Rebels the hacked at her face. At Niangara Hospital, where she is being cared for, she said she would not be going home when her wounds heal. "There's no security in the villages," she said. "Here there are soldiers," she told the Associated Presse news service.
United Nations humanitarian chief John Holmes said he heard about the killings on Saturday when he visited the nearest town, Niangara, by helicopter, and met local officials and victims who escaped. United Nations officials said they had spoken to people who were there but haven’t been able to get to the remote forest village in the Haut-Uele district of Congo's Oriental province.
The bloodshed comes two months after rebels from the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) killed more than 300 people in the area in December. They also kidnapped more than 250 people including 80 children, the UN said. If the claims turn out to bring be true, it will bring the number of people killed by the rebels between December and March to more than 500. "In this district, the Lord's Resistance Army has continued to commit horrific atrocities against civilians, who are now displaced with no prospect of going back home any time soon", Mr Holmes said.
Congolese and Ugandan forces in the region had been able to hunt down some LRA fighter. But Mr Holmes said the rebels are now spread over a wider area and so pose a greater danger. He called on the international community to put an end their "reign of terror".
The LRA was set up in Uganda in 1987 aimed at toppling the government. The revolt ended in 2005, but the rebels started attacking villages in DR Congo. Earlier, Holmes visited eastern Congo, where villages are routinely looted and burned by Rwandan rebels and a host of tribal militiamen as well as ordinary armed criminals. Sexual violence has become a weapon of war in the country and at least 8,300 women in eastern Congo were raped last year, averaging 160 rapes a week.