INTERNATIONAL

Congo ethnic group alleges atrocities

United Nations May 22. Representatives from Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have alleged that military and other armed groups are committing atrocities, including mass murder and cannibalism, against the indigenous pygmy minority which, they say, is on the verge of extinction. The representatives, who are attending the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous issues, said the allegations might be difficult to believe but they are true.

They urged the media to keep the international community focused on the horrors being committed in the country, particularly against the pygmies.

Describing the DRC as ``a country at war in spite of itself,'' Njuma Ekundanayo, a Vice-chairperson of the Permanent Forum, told presspersons that while there were no exact statistics on the number of indigenous people of Congo, years of brutal violence and reprisals had clearly revealed that the pygmy minority was the most attacked. She painted a picture of an entire race of people on the verge of extinction — politically marginalised in towns and villages and hunted down, trapped and eaten by the military in the Congolese jungles.

Mass grave

Meanwhile, aid workers clearing bodies from a troubled north-eastern Congolese town have discovered a mass grave, bringing the death toll from tribal fighting to more than 300, a U.N. official said on Thursday. Aid workers were tipped off about the grave, which was found to contain more than 32 bodies, on Wednesday by residents on the outskirts of Bunia where it was located, said Isabel Abric, a spokeswoman for the U.N. mission in Congo. The bodies appeared to have been dumped into a pre-existing pit and were in an a state of decomposition, making it impossible to say exactly how many there were, Ms. Abric said.

AP

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