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Indian peacekeepers rescue seven women in DR Congo

Indian peacekeepers have rescued seven women from Mai Mai rebels in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is often referred to as the rape capital of the world.

world Updated: Jan 29, 2011 19:52 IST

Indian peacekeepers have rescued seven women from Mai Mai rebels in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is often referred to as the rape capital of the world.

After villagers informed the UN office in North Kivu about the women being abducted, Indian peacekeepers were dispatched to the Mai Mai camp where they negotiated with the rebels to secure the women's release on Friday.

"Peacekeepers from the Indian contingent successfully rescued seven women taken hostage by Mai Mai fighters," Martin Nesirky, UN spokesperson, told journalists.

"Reports of the hostage taking was made to the North Kivu brigade by villagers in the region and then the brigade acted swiftly, cordoned off the village, negotiated the release of the women and those negotiations lasted two hours," he said.

UN officials said that the rescue mission was part of the "early warning system" that was put in place after at least 242 women were raped in DRC, last year.

Following an investigation into the incident, senior peacekeeping UN official, Atul Khare told the Security Council in September, "We have also failed."

The Mai Mai and other militant outfits in the region regularly abduct women who serve as sex slaves or for carrying goods, he said.

Michel Bonnardeux, a public affairs official at the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, told PTI that a "quick reaction force of the Indian contingent was dispatched" after the villagers got in touch with the UN yesterday and there were "no reports of the women being harmed."

Meanwhile, the UN said that it was concerned about a "steady increase in rapes in North and South Kivu allegedly perpetrated by members of foreign and Congolese armed groups as well as elements of the Congolese armed forces since the beginning of this year."

"Some of the worst offenses took place in early January in Fizi where Congolese armed forces elements were alleged to be involved in a number of violent incidents and rapes," Nesirky said.