A series of militia attacks on the town of Fataki, 60 km northwest of Bunia, have left 200 people dead, 237 abducted and the town deserted, an official of the Hema militia group Union des patriotes congolais (UPC) told IRIN on Sunday.
UPC spokesman Saba Rafiki said the Lendu began these attacks in mid-July, looting then burning homes and shops. Most of the town’s residents had fled to Bule, some 7 km from Fataki, he said. There the displaced were receiving aid from Caritas, a Roman Catholic NGO, Rafiki said.
Fataki was under UPC control before the attacks, he said, but bands of thieves and other attackers had been raiding and looting the deserted town. The UN Mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, sent two reconnaissance helicopters over the town on Saturday and reported it was empty of its residents and destroyed.
"The state of the burnt houses indicated that the latest attack took place on Friday or Thursday," Leo Salmeron, MONUC’s public information officer, said.
He said that the attackers were suspected to be Lendu and that "groups of people" were seen carrying looted property. He said Bule, to which most of Fataki’s residents had fled, was calm.
Salmeron was speaking in Bunia after a ceremony marking the handing over of the last checkpoint manned by the interim multinational force to MONUC's Ituri Brigade. The UN has mandated its MONUC force to secure the town and the whole of Ituri District. MONUC troops, totalling 2,500 so far, comprise Bangladeshi, Indian, Nepalese, Pakistani and Uruguayan contingents. Salmeron said more troops would continue to arrive until 30 September.
Maj Mohamud Azad, of the Bangladeshi contingent, and Capt Hubert Beaudouin of France, signed documents on the handing over of the checkpoint after an elaborate military process during which the French flag was lowered and the Bangladeshi and the UN flags were raised.
The official handing over between the multinational force and MONUC is scheduled for later Monday. A spokesman for the multinational force, Col Gerard Dubois of France, told IRIN that his men had been handing over their positions to MONUC troops since mid-August, and that all the EU troops were expected to leave Bunia by 15 September.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
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