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Saturday, 10 August, 2002, 22:02 GMT 23:02 UK
Second mass grave found in DR Congo
Graves of DR Congo war dead
DR Congo's war has left an estimated two million dead
United Nations peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo say they have discovered a mass grave containing 38 bodies near the north-eastern town of Bunia.

About half of the dead were women and children, said the chief of staff of the UN force, Colonel Tim Watts.


There are bound to be more dead

Colonel Tim Watts
UN mission
The bodies were found on Friday in a village outside the town of Bunia, headquarters of a rebel faction and scene this week of clashes involving rival militias.

It follows the discovery by the UN on Thursday of a mass grave on a farm outside Bunia. It held 37 corpses, all but three of them women and children. Most had machete wounds.

An unknown number of people have been killed in the fighting in the area, which has also involved the Ugandan army, but it is feared that the majority of the victims are civilians.

The UN says the area is now quiet with Ugandan troops patrolling the streets of Bunia, after they and their tribal allies seized the important trading town from another Congolese rebel faction, the Congolese Rally for Democracy Liberation Movement.

"Our observers have counted 75 bodies so far, but there are bound to be more dead," said Colonel Watts.

"The situation in Bunia is still pretty tense and our observers are unarmed, so it's difficult for them to go out and check."

Mineral wealth

Congo's war, which has left an estimated two million dead, broke out in 1998.

The continuing fighting comes in spite of moves to work out a lasting peace agreement.

Less than two weeks ago, a peace deal was signed in South Africa between the Congolese President, Joseph Kabila, and one of the key players in the four-year old war, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.

Mr Kagame has pledged to withdraw the thousands of troops he sent over the border in pursuit of Hutu rebels involved in the 1994 genocide of up to one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

But correspondents say the number of other factions involved make it doubtful whether a peace deal with Rwanda alone will be decisive in ending the war.

Thousands of other foreign troops remain in DR Congo - motivated primarily by Congo's vast mineral deposits.

Uganda and Burundi have long supported rebel groups.

At various times, Angola, Chad, Namibia and Zimbabwe - despite all having problems at home - have sent forces to back the government in Kinshasa.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Colonel Tim Watts, MONUC, on Focus on Africa
"It is clear this is ethnic based violence"
The BBC's Mark Dummett
"An aid worker said ten thousand families have been forced to flee their homes"

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30 Jul 02 | Africa
11 Jun 02 | Africa
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