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Mass graves in central Congo bear witness to growing violence


Suspected mass graves filmed by a Reuters journalist in central Democratic Republic of Congo on March 11 and 12 in and around the village of Tshienke reveal the increasingly brutal nature of fighting in central Congo between the army and local militia, and are believed to cover the bodies of rebel fighters dumped last month following intense clashes.

The United Nations said it suspects that Congolese forces killed 84 militia members close to the town of Tshimbulu between Feb. 9-13, although the government denies its soldiers used disproportionate force and says they have recovered automatic weapons from militia fighters after clashes.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende told Reuters that the bodies in the mass graves were those of Kamuina Nsapu fighters and it was the group who had buried them, not the army.

“I don’t see why the soldiers would hide the fact, that after clashing with the terrorists, the terrorists died,” he said, confirming that the army killed militia fighters in the clashes.

Leaders of Kamuina Nsapu could not be reached for comment.

Kamwina Nsapu, a local traditional chief who was killed by Congolese troops in August 2016 had vowed to rid his home province of Kasai-Central of all state security forces, accusing them of abusing the local population

The conflict between the local authorities and his fighters, who are often armed with little more than clubs and magic amulets, has erupted into deadly violence several times.