Refugees report troops’ looting, shooting spree

KIBATI/CONGO - Soldiers went on an overnight looting and shooting spree in a sprawling Congolese refugee camp, stealing from hungry and traumatized people who have fled fighting in the east of the country, witnesses said Monday.
L-R: Congolese soldiers cart away their loot through the village of Kayna in North Kivu, A Congolese government trooper (FARDC) aims his automatic weapon at a group of civilians being taken away by FARDC soldiers at the Kibati checkpoint north of Goma, ea
L-R: Congolese soldiers cart away their loot through the village of Kayna in North Kivu, A Congolese government trooper (FARDC) aims his automatic weapon at a group of civilians being taken away by FARDC soldiers at the Kibati checkpoint north of Goma, ea

KIBATI/CONGO - Soldiers went on an overnight looting and shooting spree in a sprawling Congolese refugee camp, stealing from hungry and traumatized people who have fled fighting in the east of the country, witnesses said Monday.

They said one woman was killed by a stray bullet Sunday night when soldiers went house-to-house and tent-to-tent in Kibati, a village north of the eastern provincial capital of Goma that has been overrun by about 70,000 refugees.

The soldiers demanded money at gunpoint and stole people’s few possessions — many of which had been donated by aid agencies, the witnesses said.

The people taking refuge here are among some 250,000 who have been driven from their homes by fighting stemming from a long-simmering rebellion that escalated in August.

Patrice Sebahunde said he was awakened at 10 p.m. by four soldiers pointing guns in his face. They took his family’s food, clothes and their plastic water bucket.

“They came up, pointed a gun at me, and said, ‘Wake up, wake up, give us money and everything you have,’” said Sebahunde, 60, who sat on the front porch of his wooden cabin and stared grimly at the sea of white plastic tents in what used to be his front yard.

Stray bullet kills woman

Sebahunde and several other witnesses said the soldiers shot a 45-year-old woman in the head, killing her instantly.

A 20-year-old woman was killed at Kibati on Thursday night when soldiers shot a bullet pierced her tent and hit her in the head.

Rebel leader Laurent Nkunda accuses the peacekeepers of siding with the soldiers. The U.N. mandate orders the peacekeepers to give support to Congo’s army—a ragtag, poorly paid collection of the defeated army of ousted dictator Mobutu Sese Seko and several of the rebel groups that helped overthrow him, including fighters of current President Joseph Kabila.

Associated Press

 

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