UN mission to visit DR Congo 'massacre' site

UN vehicle in DR Congo (file photo) A strong UN force helped defeat one rebel group in DR Congo last year but others remain active

A UN team is due to visit the site of alleged mass killings in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The move comes after the UN mission in the country (Monusco) told the BBC its reconnaissance flight had discovered three villages burnt to the ground.

It says it believed more than 70 people had been summarily executed in late January and early February.

Monusco did not say which of the more than 40 armed groups in the region it thought was responsible.

The largest rebel group, the M23, was defeated with the help of a strong UN brigade last year.

'Spreading terror'

"We were able to carry out a reconnaissance flight in the afternoon, and we were able to observe from the air that three villages had been burnt," Monusco's Ray Torres told the BBC on Thursday.

Map

"We were not able to send yet any of our staff to the locations to verify, but we will be doing that tomorrow. "

The UN mission said the killings were mainly committed in North Kivu province to spread terror. Most of the victims were killed with machetes, it added.

Eastern DR Congo has suffered from two decades of violence linked to ethnic rivalries and competition for the control of the area's mineral resources, leaving an estimated five million people dead.

The unrest began when some of the ethnic Hutu militants accused of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda fled into DR Congo.

Rwanda has consistently denied repeated accusations from the UN that it backed the M23 rebels, whose uprising in North Kivu forced about 800,000 people from their homes.

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