UPDATE 1-Congo forces targeting civilians, denying peacekeepers access - UN

Sat Mar 18, 2017 11:54am GMT
 

* Army fighting against lightly armed militia

* Seven soldiers charged in connection with earlier killings

* Hundreds dead, hundreds of thousands have fled since August (Adds charges against soldiers, context)

By Aaron Ross

KINSHASA, March 18 (Reuters) - Government forces have targeted civilians, including women and children, resulting in numerous deaths in central Congo this week and are restricting United Nations peacekeepers' access to the area, the country's U.N. mission said on Saturday.

Amid mounting accusations of violence against civilians, Congolese authorities on Saturday announced they had charged seven soldiers in connection with a video last month appearing to show army troops massacring suspected militia members.

Democratic Republic of Congo's army is carrying out operations against the Kamuina Nsapu militia. Clashes between the military and the insurgents have killed hundreds of people and displaced hundreds of thousands since last August.

Militia violence in Congo, a tinder box of conflicts over land, ethnicity and minerals, has been worsened by President Joseph Kabila's failure to step down when his elected mandate expired in December.

The U.N. mission, MONUSCO, said it had received "credible reports of high numbers of deaths" this week in Kananga, the capital of Kasai-Central province, adding that security forces have restricted the mission's freedom of movement.   Continued...

 
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