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US and UN plan response to DR Congo mass rapes

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The US said Wednesday it was “deeply concerned” about reports of mass rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo and would work with the local government and the UN to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“The United States is deeply concerned by reports of the mass rape of women and children … by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda … and elements of the Mai Mai, community-based militia groups in eastern Congo,” US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said in a statement.

Clinton’s remarks follow UN chief Ban Ki-moon’s comments Tuesday in which he expressed outrage over the rapes by the Hutu rebels, and sent a top envoy to investigate.

A UN joint human rights team confirmed allegations of the rape of at least 154 women by fighters from the Rwandan FDLR militia and Congolese Mai-Mai rebels in the village of Bunangiri.

Despite the alleged attacks happening only miles from its base of Kibua, the UN only found out about the atrocities 10 days later, after being informed by an aid agency.

While local people had reported roadblocks by the militiamen to UN patrols, they said nothing about the sexual violence, according to Roger Meece, a UN official in eastern DR Congo.

FDLR's executive secretary Callixte Mbarushimana denounced the allegations saying the rebel movement was "in no way involved in these odious actions and takes umbrage at the baseless accusations against them by the secretary-general of the United Nations".

The UN has called an emergency session of the Security Council to discuss a response to the violence.


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