According to a UN probe, the M23 rebel group attacked in November in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, killing at least 131 civilians there.
In two villages, Kishishe and Bambo, in the Rutsuhuru district of the eastern North Kivu province, according to the UN assessment, a massacre took occurred.
According to investigators, the assault looked to be retaliation for a recent government onslaught against the rebels.
M23 disputed the massacre, attributing only eight of the dead to “stray shots.”
However, the rebel group allegedly “arbitrarily executed” 102 men, 17 women, and 12 children “as part of reprisals against the civilian population” according to the UN’s Monusco peacekeeping force in the nation.
The report stated that at least 22 women and five girls were also violated.
According to the statement, “this violence was carried out as part of a campaign of murders, rapes, kidnappings, and looting against two villages in the Rutshuru territory as retaliation for the clashes between the M23” and other armed groups, including the FDLR. It was also noted that the actual number of fatalities may have been even higher.
Furthermore, it said that M23 militants buried the victims’ remains in “what may be an attempt to obliterate evidence.”
Over 300 civilians were reportedly killed in the strike, which happened between November 29 and 30, according to the government at first. However, given that the area was occupied by M23, its spokesman Patrick Muyaya acknowledged on Monday that it was challenging to get a precise number.
While protests have been organized in the capital Kinshasa and Goma, the largest city in North Kivu, Congolese officials have labeled the killings as war crimes and urged for more inquiry.