MONUC investigators attacked in Ituri

Unidentified gunmen attacked on Wednesday a team of UN officials investigating the reported killing of 100 people almost three weeks ago in Gobu, a village in the troubled district of Ituri, Orientale Province, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“We cannot say what armed group carried out the attack but we know that this zone is under the control of Hema militiamen of the Union des patriotes congolais, commanded by someone known as Bosco,” Leocadio Salmeron, the MONUC spokesman in Bunia, said.

The attack on the UN personnel took place in the village of Djo, seven kilometres south of Gobu, that is 60 km north of Bunia, the largest town in Ituri. A Uruguayan military unit with the investigators returned fire during the 15-minute shootout. There were no MONUC casualties.

Investigators were also to evaluate the human rights situation in Gobu. That task has now been suspended “until adequate measure can be taken following the attack”, Salmeron said.

Victims of the 16 January attack at Gobu, along Lake Albert, said 24 assailants, who had split up into several groups, joined boats transporting displaced people and traders to lakeside villages, and forced them to land at Gobu. Then, they separated the men from the women and children before shooting the men in groups.