The Lord's Resistance Army of the Congo is responsible for a series of massacres of villagers in the region. The latest to be reported claims that over 100 were killed by the rebel force:
U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes said he learned of the killings on Saturday when he visited Niangara, the nearest town which he reached by helicopter, and met with local officials and victims who escaped. U.N. investigators said they have spoken with witnesses but so far have been unable to reach the remote scene in the Haut-Uele district of Congo's Oriental province.
It comes two months after one of the worst massacres recently committed by the LRA, the killings of more than 300 civilians in the area in the second week of December. Rebels also kidnapped more than 250 people including 80 children, according to the U.N.
"In this district, the Lord's Resistance Army has continued to commit horrific atrocities against civilians, who are now displaced with no prospect of going back home any time soon", Holmes said Saturday, on the third day of a four-day tour from his New York headquarters.
The latest attacks highlight the need for the continued presence in Congo of the U.N. military mission, Holmes said. Congo's government wants MONUC - the largest U.N. peacekeeping mission with some 20,000 troops - to leave before September 2011.
"We are worried by the prospect of a premature withdrawal because MONUC is very important to our humanitarian activities," Holmes said in an interview with The Associated Press on Saturday. "If you withdraw that element of stability that is MONUC then other conflicts contained by the presence of MONUC may get out of control and you could find yourself in a much more dangerous situation."