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More than 1,000 killed in eastern Congo, says report

More than 1,000 civilians have been killed and nearly 900,000 displaced in eastern Congo by Rwandan Hutu militiamen and Congolese forces since January, according to humanitarian groups.

world Updated: Oct 14, 2009 10:20 IST

More than 1,000 civilians have been killed and nearly 900,000 displaced in eastern Congo by Rwandan Hutu militiamen and Congolese forces since January, according to humanitarian groups.

A report released on Tuesday by a coalition of 84 organisations said that many of the killings were carried out by Rwandan Hutu militiamen. Congolese government soldiers also have targeted civilians, the report said.

A Congolese military operation has been aimed at forcing out the Rwandan Hutu militiamen, many of whom sought refuge in neighbouring Congo after participating in Rwanda's 1994 genocide that killed more than 500,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu.

But the groups said on Tuesday that the military operation, which is backed by a United Nations peacekeeping force, is not doing enough to protect civilians in the region.

"The human rights and humanitarian consequences of the current military operation are simply disastrous," said Marcel Stoessel of Oxfam.

Jean-Paul Dietrich, military spokesman for MONUC, said the UN is working hard to protect civilians in the region.

"We are in conversations with the government, who knows our position on this subject -- the officers who have committed these crimes cannot participate in the army and should be tried by the international or national judicial systems," he said.