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Congo Massacre

More than thirty civilians were murdered in Ntulumamba, a village in the South Kivu region of the self-styled Democratic Republic of the Congo. U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey says mostly Congolese women and children "were deliberately murdered by armed men who forced the victims into buildings which were then burned." The bodies were buried in two mass graves.

The United Nations Security Council is calling on the Congolese government "to prosecute and bring to justice expeditiously the perpetrators and those responsible for these crimes." According to news reports, those responsible for the killings were members of a local militia and Rwandan Hutu rebels. The rebels are among ten-thousand Rwandan refugees who fled to the Congo eleven years ago when they were accused of taking part in the genocide in Rwanda which left some eight-hundred thousand Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead.

The rebels call themselves the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda. In March, they agreed to disarm and return to Rwanda, where they would challenge the Tutsi-dominated government in a peaceful manner. But very few honored the pledge.

A man who identified himself as Bisimwa, the headmaster of Ntulumamba's primary school, said he was a witness to the massacre. Bisimwa told a reporter that the attack was to punish residents for cooperating with U-N peacekeepers and the Congolese army, who are trying to persuade the Rwandan rebels to leave the Congo.

The attack in Ntulumamba, says State Department spokesman Casey, "underscores the need for Rwandan rebel forces. . . .to disarm and repatriate immediately." "It is equally important," he says, "that other armed militia forces disarm, in order to permit reestablishment of secure and stable conditions throughout the Democratic Republic of the Congo under the authority and control of that nation's government."

U.S. officials are working hard with Rwanda, Uganda, the Congo, and Burundi, to focus on dealing with armed rebel groups. Working in coordination with the African Union, the European Union, and the United Nations, the U.S. hopes to limit the violence in Eastern Congo, which is taking almost one-thousand lives each day. The ultimate goal is to promote development, stability and security.

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.