Arbitrarily shooting, stabbing, raping, and abducting people, rebels in eastern Congo have killed at least 131 people and inflicted “unspeakable violence” against civilians, says a new UN report.

Iran PressAfrica: The M23 rebel group killed men, women, and children in two villages in Congo's Rutshuru territory in North Kivu province last month, according to a preliminary investigation by the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office in Congo and MONUSCO, the UN peacekeeping mission in the country.

The investigation, based on interviews with 52 victims and witnesses, details a brutal campaign of killings, rapes, kidnappings, and looting in Kishishe and Bambo villages, between November 29 and 30 by the rebels. At least 60 people were abducted, 22 women and girls raped, property looted and houses burned, says the report.

The killings were among the latest in clashes between the rebels and a coalition of armed civilian protection militia, which have been fighting each other in eastern Congo for more than a year since M23 rebels resurfaced after being dormant for nearly a decade.

The M23 rose to prominence 10 years ago when its fighters seized Goma, the largest city in Congo’s east, which sits along the border with Rwanda. The group derives its name from a March 23 peace deal in 2009, which it accuses the government of not implementing.

After the attacks rebels prevented survivors from leaving ransacked villages and allegedly buried bodies of victims in what might have been an attempt to destroy evidence, said the UN report. Due to security constraints, investigators were unable to access the villages speaking to survivors and witnesses at a UN peacekeeping base in a nearby town where people had sought refuge.

The report comes amid a spate of tit-for-tat accusations by both groups accusing the other of atrocities. While a cease-fire was agreed to last month, analysts say the new attacks could lead to further violence.

M23 did not immediately respond to the findings of the U.N.'s investigation but has previously dismissed similar accusations as propaganda.


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