GENEVA (AFP) — The United Nations on Wednesday raised the alarm over killings and rapes in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo over the past month, a spokeswoman said.
"This is a cry of alarm, we are shocked," said Elisabeth Byrs of the UN humanitarian coordination office, as she reported a "dramatic" resurgence in rapes and attacks in Sud-Kivu province, with civilians burnt alive in their homes.
"The insecurity is intolerable," she told journalists.
"We are seeing an extremely grave trend with rapes used as a weapon of war," Byrs said, also highlighting a spike in violence since April with attacks on villages.
OCHA said in a briefing note that civlians were "increasingly the victims of lootings, extortion, killings and rapes" committed by the Congolese army, and armed groups such as the Rwandan Hutu rebel FDLR and Mai-Mai militia.
Some 1,128 homes were burned down in three villages during attacks.
"Seventy-seven people were killed with machetes, knives and burnt alive," in one attack by the FDLR on the village of Busurungi on the border with Nord-Kivu, said Byrs.
"There is terrible violence currently in Sud-Kivu, especially in the region of Kakeli," she explained.
During the first three months of the year, 463 rape cases were recorded in most of the province, equivalent to more than half of the total cases registered there last year.
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