Wednesday 16 August 2017

DRCongo unrest killed 390 fighters, 124 troops since end March

DRCongo unrest killed 390 fighters, 124 troops since end March
(AFP 05/16/17)

Spiralling violence in DR Congo's central Kasai region has killed 390 tribal militia fighters and 124 government troops since the end of March, the army said Monday.

"DRC's armed forces have been waging operations to back up the police since end March in Kasai," the army's (FARDC) Brigadier General Leon-Richard Kasonga told a news conference.

The death toll from the fighting has amounted to 390 militia fighters, 39 FARDC troops and 85 police officers, according to Kasonga.

Violence in Kasai was sparked by the killing of tribal chief Kamwina Nsapu last August and has killed hundreds of people and displaced 1.27 million more.

The UN has accused the Kamwina Nsapu rebels of recruiting child soldiers while also criticising the country's government of using excessive force against the insurgents.

"Our troops respect international humanitarian law and human rights... we have acted professionally," said Kasonga on Monday, although he did not provide a civilian death toll.

In March, UN experts Michael Sharp, an American, and Zaida Catalan, a dual Swedish-Chilean national were abducted and shot dead while investigating reports of more than 40 mass graves in the region.

The UN security council last week called on Kinshasa to cooperate with the investigation on the deaths of the UN workers and step up efforts to implement a New Year's Eve agreement aimed at paving the way to elections.

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