Cornelia Yekpalile, a 23-year-old mother of four children, was mutilated 18 days ago when she went to the fields near her village of Kpizimbi, set in dense forest in northeast Congo, to collect spinach-like pondu leaves to cook for lunch. The young woman shakes her head when asked why rebels did this to her, then whispers that the attackers who came from across the river were angry because she kept crying for mercy and calling on God for help.
It’s an area so difficult to reach that UN officials on Saturday announced a previously unreported massacre that occurred two months ago: up to 100 people were killed when the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army attacked a village.
UN humanitarian chief John Holmes said he learned of the killings on Saturday when he visited Niangara, the nearest town which he reached by helicopter, and met with local officials and victims who escaped.
UN investigators said they have spoken with witnesses but so far have been unable to reach the remote scene in the Haut-Uele district of Congo’s Oriental province.
It comes two months after one of the worst massacres recently committed by the LRA, the killings of more than 300 civilians in the area in the second week of December. Rebels also kidnapped more than 250 people including 80 children, according to the UN.
“In this district, the Lord’s Resistance Army has continued to commit horrific atrocities against civilians, who are now displaced with no prospect of going back home any time soon,” Mr. Holmes said.
The latest attacks highlight the need for continued presence of the UN military mission in Congo, Mr. Holmes said.