UN preliminary report rules out genocide in Bukavu

The human rights section of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, known as MONUC, has discredited allegations that genocide of the Banyamulenge ethnic community occurred recently in the eastern town of Bukavu, MONUC reported on Wednesday.

MONUC refuted claims made by dissident Congolese army Gen Laurent Nkunda that the Banyamulenge had been subjected to gross human rights violations.

Nkunda, along with Col Jules Mutebutsi, occupied the South Kivu capital of Bukavu from 2 to 10 June.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Nkunda said their occupation of Bukavu was a necessary measure to end the genocide of the Banyamulenge, which, according to him, was orchestrated by Gen Mbuza Mabe, the commander of the 10th Military Region, under which Bukavu falls.

"In the effort to put an end to this genocide, we have made the decision to retake the city of Bukavu," Nkunda had said.

The chief of MONUC's humanitarian section, Roberto Ricci, said all Bukavu residents, including the Banyamulenge, had suffered from attacks in the last few weeks. He added that all belligerent factions, dissident soldiers and government forces, had committed crimes against civilians.

The preliminary MONUC report indicated that during Bukavu's occupation, there were 143 civilian casualties, 66 deaths, 31 rapes, and 147 homes pillaged.

From 26 May to 1 June, when the town was still under government control, MONUC counted four civilians killed and 12 injured, Ricci said.

He added that dissident soldiers had committed indiscriminate killings, looting, and humiliations during their occupation.

"Those who opposed their pillaging were killed," he said.