49 Civilians Reportedly Killed by the DR Congo Army in Mbandaka

A UN Peacekeeper in the DRC

According to the BBC, the Democratic Republic of Congo army had killed 49 civilians after retaking the airport in Mbandaka from rebels earlier this month. A human rights group the Asadho campaign group, reported that witnesses told them that nine people arrested three months earlier were accused of being rebels and killed in cold blood. The group also found that 33 bodies were left at the morgue. The report also stated that the airport attack which followed clashes over fishing rights, left two UN workers dead.

The DR Congo’s army has a terrible reputation for brutality and stealing from and raping the people it is supposed to protect. Thousands of former rebel fighters have joined the army under various peace deals. The dispute in Mbandaka is separate from the unrest involving numerous armed groups in eastern DR Congo, which has drawn the world’s biggest peacekeeping operation to the country. There are also reports that the UN peacekeepers helped the army retake control of the airport in the north-western Equateur province on 5 April. The Asadho group also accused UN peacekeepers of not helping a ship-owner who was killed by the rebels, reports the AFP news agency.

The group accused troops of killing seven other people and not taking their bodies to the morgue.  Mbandaka is the capital of Equateur province, where at least 100 people were killed in clashes between the Lobala and Boba communities last year, displacing an estimated 200,000 people.  The rebels were thought to be from the Enyele community. They belong to a Lobala sub-tribe in the region.

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