RCD denies accusations of massacres in Kisangani

The Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD-Goma) armed opposition group has denied accusations that it or its Rwandan backers were involved in massacres and mass graves reported near the northeastern city of Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

"These accusations are unfounded and untrue," the RCD-Goma deputy spokesman, Jean-Pierre Lola Kisanga, told IRIN on Thursday.

In a statement released on Monday, the African Association for the Defence of Human Rights (ASADHO) accused RCD-Goma and Rwandan soldiers of widespread massacres of civilians while fighting, or under the pretext of fighting, Congolese Mayi-Mayi militias around the DRC's third-largest city. ASADHO also reported the discovery of numerous mass graves, five of which it verified the existence of.

"ASADHO calls upon RCD-Goma and Rwanda, in its capacity as an occupying force, to renounce the logic of reprisals against defenceless civilians, and to respect their obligations under the Geneva Conventions and the cease-fire accords signed in July 1999 in Lusaka," it stated. It also called on humanitarian agencies to come to the aid of people in the region.