DR Congo Army Officer ‘led mass rape’ in Fizi
19 January 2011
An army commander in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has been accused of leading the recent mass rape of at least 50 women. One of the victims, as well as sources quoted in a UN report, all accuse Lt Col Kibibi Mutware of links to New Year's Day rapes in the town of Fizi.
There have been numerous cases of mass rape in DR Congo's conflict but this is believed to be the largest single incident allegedly involving the army.
Lt Col Kibibi has denied the charges. He said that the soldiers who raided the town had disobeyed orders.
From an everyday fight between two men over a woman, violence escalated into a brutal punitive expedition by a group of government troops against the population of Fizi. "A soldier was killed here right beside the hospital," explains Dr Faise Chacha, the head of Fizi hospital.
"That started the panic and all our patients fled. We came back at 0500 the next morning and we started taking in people who had been stabbed and others - women - who had been raped."
Dr Chacha and the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres have treated 51 rape victims so far, but they expect more as women who fled the attacks slowly return home. (…)
An internal report by investigators sent to Fizi by the UN peacekeeping mission Monusco and
seen by the BBC also quotes local leaders and police sources who accuse Lt Col Kibibi of directing the atrocity.
Monusco sent patrols from the day after the violence from its Baraka base, just over one hour's drive away, and has maintained a 24-hour presence in Fizi since 5 January, which has encouraged the population to come back. (…)
In a statement, the UN's special representative on sexual violence, Margot Wallstrom, called on the Congolese authorities to conduct an investigation "thoroughly and without delay".
"Impunity for these types of crimes must not be tolerated," she added.
Lt Col Kibibi is a former member of the CNDP rebel group, which has previously been accused of numerous human rights abuses.
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