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Tuesday, 20 August, 2002, 09:52 GMT 10:52 UK
'Prosecute DR Congo rebel leaders'
Kisangani cemetery
At least 180 people were killed after the uprising
A New York-based human rights group has called for the prosecution of Congolese rebel leaders it accuses of committing war crimes during the suppression of an uprising in the town of Kisangani in May.

In a report, Human Rights Watch names commanders from the Rwandan-backed rebel faction, the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD-Goma), who it says were responsible for widespread killings, summary executions, rapes and pillage.


RCD-Goma flew in from Goma top commanders of its army to coordinate a brutal repression campaign

Human Rights Watch
Up to 180 people were killed after the revolt was quickly put down, according to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

Human Rights Watch also accuses the United Nations force in Kisangani of doing nothing to stop the killings.

"The UN mission had more than 1,000 soldiers in Kisangani and were clearly aware of the killings," the report said.

The RCD and their Rwandan backers attempted to topple the Congolese Government in 1998 and the war has also drawn in the armies of Ugandan, Burundi, Angola, Zimbabwe, Chad and Namibia.

RCD officials have rejected the report, saying it was based only on interviews with their enemies and that it failed to prove that the officers deliberately killed innocent civilians.

Revenge attacks

Shortly after the killings, the rebels called for the removal of the UN special envoy in Congo, after the UN accused them of grave human rights violations.

Human Rights Watch says the revenge attacks were planned.

"RCD-Goma flew in from Goma top commanders of its army to coordinate a brutal repression campaign," the report says.

During the brief uprising, a group of dissidents seized control of a local radio station and called on the population to attack Rwandans.

More than 1,000 people rallied to their call and five people were murdered.

But two hours later the mutineers disappeared without a fight.

The BBC's Mark Dummett says most people in the city to claim it was a staged operation to flush out disloyal soldiers and policemen and justify the campaign of terror which followed.

People from one of the poorest districts, Mangobo, spoke of how a squad of drunk Rwandan and Congolese rebel fighters fired indiscriminately into their homes, killing about 40 innocent people.


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