UN troops break up militia camp in Ituri

UN troops shut down a militia camp on Thursday in the embattled northeastern district of Ituri in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a UN official said on Thursday.

Christophe Boulierac, a spokesman of the UN Mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, said the militia camp was near a transit demobilisation centre that had been set up in the town of Mahagi, to receive fighters from the Forces armees du peuple Congolais (FAPC) militia group.

"The operation aimed to force the militiamen out of the camp because they were a threat to demobilised soldiers whom they threatened with death," Boulierac said.

MONUC broke up the camp early on Thursday. It subsequently discovered 15 AK-47 rifles, a rocket, munitions and some documents.

"A small number [of militiamen] accepted to leave of the camp and surrender their weapons, the others fled and about ten of them went to the transit camp for demobilised soldiers," Boulierac added.

Boulierac said UN Pakistani soldiers were now occupying the militia camp.

The Mahagi demobilisation centre was one of five set up to receive soldiers as part of the country’s disarmament, demobilisation and reinsertion programme.

MONUC's operation on Thursday came in the wake of allegations on Sunday that child combatants, who had accepted to be demobilised, were executed; that other civilians were also killed; that taxes were being levied illegally; and that there were other violations by FAPC militiamen in another camp in Ndrele, 20 km southeast of Mahagi.

It also comes as the public prosecutor is investigating these abuses.

According to MONUC, the prosecutor arrived in Ndrele on Wednesday and has begun interviewing some of the accused militiamen.

"There are testimonies on executions, on children being used in Ndrele as workers or sexual slaves and the existence of an illegal detention facility," Boulierac said.

Boulierac said MONUC had discovered human bones in the dismantled militia camp, but it was unclear if they belonged to one or more persons.