UN team finds 65 bodies in eastern DR of Congo

7 October 2003 – The United Nations peacekeeping operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has discovered 65 bodies, mostly children, apparently massacred Monday, a UN spokesman said today.

“From the evidence gathered, a group of Lendu, believed to be from nearby villages, armed with rifles and machetes, attacked Kashele early” Monday morning, the spokesman, Fred Eckhard, said at a press briefing.

A unit from the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC), alerted by local combatants, found 23 bodies in a local church and the others in a mass grave, Mr. Eckhard added. Most of the dead were children. Some 20 other persons were wounded and are being treated in local hospitals.

Mr. Eckhard said MONUC had sent a contingent of Pakistani soldiers to Kashele to investigate the massacre and search for weapons.

Two weeks ago, Secretary-General Kofi Annan praised “positive developments” in the DRC, including the establishment of a Government of National Unity and Transition. He had convened a meeting of the leaders of countries in the region, who pledged to work together for peace.

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