Civilians caught in crossfire in Congo crackdown
From JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) -THE Congolese forces have reportedly killed scores of innocent civilians in crackdown initially meant to crush rebels opposed to the re-election of long-time President, Denis Sassou-Nguesso.
The military and police operation is ongoing in the Pool region, southeast of the central African country of 5 million people.
Human rights groups reported the violence had led to dozens of people killed and injured, the destruction of many buildings including schools, medical centers and churches as well as numerous arrests. Populations have deserted cities and sought refuge in the bush where they survive in extreme precariousness and insecurity.
Meanwhile, security forces carry out waves of arrests of people suspected to be former Ninja fighters, the Pastor Ntumi rebel group.
In Brazzaville, Kinkala and Kindamba dozens of young people identified as former Ninjas were arrested after the violence of early April and are still being held in Brazzaville.
Authorities have subjected the Pool to a complete blockade, preventing all non-tightly controlled access, raising fears that serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law are perpetrated against the civilian population.
The crisis follows the contested re-election of Sassou-Nguesso, who forced its way through his “re-election” in defiance of constitutional legality and African Union texts.
In power for 32 years, he was sworn in on April 16, for a five year term, following an election marred by fraud and irregularities.
Opposition and civil society as well as part of the international community rejected the conduct of the polls.
– CAJ News
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