Page last updated at 11:55 GMT, Monday, 2 November 2009

UN drops Congo army over killings

Congolese soldiers being trained (file photo)
The Congolese army moved against the FDLR in January

The UN has withdrawn its support for an army unit in Democratic Republic of Congo, accusing soldiers of killing 62 civilians, a top UN official says.

UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy said he had information that the army had "clearly targeted" the civilians.

Rights activists have persistently said ethnic Hutus were being killed by the Congolese army, and have accused the UN of doing little to stop the killings.

The UN has been helping the army tackle Rwandan Hutu rebels since January.

Following a tour of the region, Mr Le Roy said the army had killed at least 62 civilians between May and September this year.

"We have decided that Monuc [UN's peacekeeping operation] will immediately suspend its logistical and operational support to the army units implicated in these killings," Mr Le Roy told UN-backed Radio Okapi.

He said the killings took place around the village of Lukweti in North Kivu province, about 100km (62 miles) north-west of the provincial capital Goma.

Years of unrest

Rights groups estimate hundreds of civilians have been killed and thousands of women and girls have been raped by rebels and soldiers since DR Congo and Rwanda launched a joint offensive in January.

Congo map

Last month a UN investigator said the army had massacred refugees and gang-raped women at the Shalio camp in North Kivu on 27 April.

The Hutu rebel group, the FDLR, has been at the heart of years of unrest in the region.

The rebels fled to the area in 1994 after being accused of taking part in Rwanda's genocide and have since been fighting with the local Tutsi population and government troops.

The UN move comes after days of intense fighting between government forces and FDLR rebels around Lukweti.

The BBC's Thomas Fessy, in North Kivu province, says the army has announced it is suspending all military operations around the village so the alleged civilian deaths can be investigated.

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