I got my hands on an internal MONUC report on killings by ex-CNDP (Nkunda's former soldiers) units in the Congolese army around Lukweti (western Masisi territory). It is the result of a week of investigations by MONUC human rights officers in the field. Its conclusions are interesting and highlights some of the tensions we've been talking about (land, refugee return, army integration) on this site. This comes on the heels of a Human Rights Watch report that said that the Congolese army had killed 270 civilians in the same area since March. Here are some excerpts from the UN report:
"Earlier this year, Colonel Janvier, commander of the APCLS [local Hunde militia group] was due to integrate into the FARDC [Congolese army]. However, when it became clear that the GoDRC [Congolese government] could not respond to janvier's demands, he returned to Masisi in June....since May 2009, FARDC soldiers of the 213th brigade commanded by Colonel Ngabo have been carrying out attacks on villages situated in the APCLS controlled areas."
"The findings of the team indicate that during military operations carried out in APCLS controlled villages, FARDC soldiers killed numerous civilians in a targeted fashion. According to the testimonies of 23 direct eyewitnesses of the attacks, the killings were committed by ex-CNDP cadres integrated into the FARDC. The reason behind the killings seems to be the perception of the ex-CNDP elements that the population cooperates with the APCLS or the FDLR or even the suspicion that certain locals are APCLS or FDLR cadres. All interlocutors referred as well to longstanding land conflicts in the area and see these killings as an attempt to cause the population to flee and free the land."
"So far, the team gathered reliable evidence regarding the killing of 62 civilians, almost all of Hunde ethnicity, during the operations led in the area since May 2009. The team collected as well testimonies in the abduction of 8 civilians who are still missing. The statements of the survivors indicate that the death toll could be much higher: clear testimonies referred to 55 other civilians that would have been killed during these attacks.
"Lukweti is located 17km north of Nyabiondo in Bafuna Groupment, Masisi territory. It is an enclosed area extremely difficult to access by road....The population in the area is mainly Hunde, but there are also Congolese Hutu. It is an area with fields ideal for cultivation and cattle herding...As from 1993, the region around Lukweti has been plagued by ethnic tensions that opposed Hundes on the one side and Hutus and Tutsi on the other. The conflict was about land. Numerous civilians had been killed."
"In the view of the interviewed interlocutors, FARDC-led operations are not about the FDLR, but about land. Reportedly, FARDC deployed to the area for Kimia II did not target FDLR, but concentrated their attacks on APCLS held areas. All local authorities highlighted their concern regarding the return of 45,000 refugees from Rwanda to Masisi territory. They did not believe the 45,000 are actually returning refugees and feared land conflicts. Local chiefs were rather in favor of a solution in which the customary authorities would be consulted prior to a return of refugees and would have a possibility to establish lists of persons who used to leave [sic] in their respective areas."
"Numerous witnesses indicated that the FARDC soldiers shot at the civilians upon their arrival to the villages. Several witnesses indicated that there were no APCLS or FDLR cadres in their villages when the killings occurred, because they had no presence in the area or because they withdrew upon the arrival of the assailants. The fact that the FARDC soldiers nevertheless shot at civilians, shows that they had a clear intention to kill civilians and that the killings were targeted. In addition, witnesses reported that both APCLS and FDLR cadres generally wore military uniforms, which excludes confusions with civilians."
"Several sources explicitly reported that the attacks have been ordered by Colonel Salongo (ex-CNDP), deputy commander of Sector 21, and Colonel Ngabo (ex-CNDP), commander the of 213th brigade...At the occasion of an attack carried out in the Lukweti area in August, Salongo had come to the area. He met with MONUC military, admitted to have ordered an attack, and declared that it was an FARDC patrol whose purpose was to look for the FDLR."
"The closest MONUC presence to the site of the attacks and the killings is MONUC COB at Nyabiondo (17km S of Lukweti)....However, peacekeepers never reached the area because of the bad condition of the road. Therefore, MONUC peacekeepers were not aware of the killings....While MONUC actively supports military operations carried out by the FARDC, MONUC peacekeepers need to escort locals to protect them from the FARDC; need to prevent the FARDC from forcing the population to carry MONUC rations; are not aware of the details of the operations led by the FARDC; and do not have access to an area in which the population is most in need of protection."