UN team discovers 12 corpses in Gobu

UN peacekeeping troops who have reached a reported massacre site in the northeastern town of Gobu, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, have discovered 12 corpses but no mass grave, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

"The presumption is there was a massacre but it is very difficult to know who the killers were and what really happened," Hamadoun Toure, spokesman for the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC), said in Kinshasa, the nation's capital.

UN troops who discovered the bodies, he said, did not have enough equipment to examine the bodies and so determine the moment and cause of death. "We are waiting for pathologists and other experts to determine if there was really a massacre," he added.

MONUC officials are to investigate reports by survivors of a 16 January attack on boats carrying displaced people and traders, that 24 assailants seized their vessels and took them to Gobu, along Lake Albert, where they killed about 100 male passengers.

The investigators have tried on several occasions to reach Gobu but have been forced back. On one occasion unidentified gunmen fired at them in the village of Djo, seven kilometres south of Gobu. More recently bad weather grounded their helicopters trying to reach Gobu, 60 km north of Bunia. So UN troops were finally sent there on foot.