(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

Serious abuses committed by Cobras, US says

Undisciplined government troops, including Cobra militia allied to President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, were responsible for summary executions and rape in response to anti-government violence during the last four months of 1998, the US State Department’s 1998 human rights report said.

It said that the origin and nature of the 16-20 December fighting in Bacongo and Makelekele remained uncertain but that no more than 300 Ninja militia were involved, and that at least 1,000 people had died. The fighting displaced some 200,000 residents from the two neighbourhoods.

The report said that government forces, mainly Cobras, had looted these neighborhoods with impunity for days after they were abandoned. They “drove trucks and wheeled push-carts piled high with looted goods from these neighbourhoods to markets” in northern Brazzaville, it said. Security forces were also reported to have removed from northern Brazzaville’s displaced centres several young males, whose whereabouts remained unknown.

The government also permitted Hutu militiamen from refugee camps in the country to join in military operations, it added.

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