UN finds 17 new mass graves in Democratic Republic of Congo

Updated: 00:00 GMT, Jan 1, 1970 | Published: 04:32 GMT, Apr 20, 2017 |

United Nations investigators have found 17 new mass grave sites in the central region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Wednesday’s press briefing at the UN headquarters in New York City.

Zeid Raad Al Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights, called the DRC’s government to launch an investigation, threatening that the International Criminal Court (ICC) would do so if authorities failed to take action.

Zeid said in a statement published by his office on Wednesday that he had reports DRC soldiers had dug the graves after clashes with the Kamuina Nsapu militia in the central Kasai region in March.

“At least 74 people, including 30 children, were reported to have been killed by soldiers,” in the clashes, he said, without giving details on the sources of his information.

During a separate incident in the provincial capital of Kananga last month, soldiers were reported to have shot dead at least 40 people and raped women and girls, Zeid said, again without saying who had made the reports.

Most of the victims were said to have been killed in their homes as soldiers went door to door looking for militia members, he added.

Fifteen of the newly-confirmed sites are in the town of Tshimbulu, and two in Thsienke, a village near Kananga city.

The findings mean that the UN has now documented 40 mass grave sites and killings of more than 400 people in Kasai Central and Kasai Oriental provinces since last August.