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'Ugandan rebels have massacred over 500 people'

The Ugandan rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have killed over 500 people and forced some 115,000 to flee their homes since September last year, the UN refugee agency said.

world Updated: Jan 18, 2009 05:23 IST

The Ugandan rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have killed over 500 people and forced some 115,000 to flee their homes since September last year, the UN refugee agency said on Saturday, adding it was "shocked" by the state of survivors remaining in the area.

On Wednesday, a joint UN team reached the difficult-to-access village of Duru in north-eastern Congo's Oriental Province, scene of successive attacks by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in recent months, and which was again targeted by the rebel group in the last week.

Staff from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), who had to fly into Duru by helicopter, heard distressing accounts of atrocities committed by the Ugandan rebel group, who the survivors said had last raided the village on Monday and Tuesday, killing four people, injuring a 4-year-old girl and abducting a 9-year-old boy.

"A four-year old girl was wounded and as I speak right now, she still has a bullet in her right leg where she was shot. Her father died instantly and she was there lying beside the dead body of her father crying," David Nthengwe, UNHCR's spokesperson in eastern DRC, told UN Radio.

UNHCR staff said they were shocked by the physical condition of the villagers, many of them clad in rags, looking famished and weak after spending nights in the bush without blankets or shelter.

"They have no clothing. They have not eaten for many weeks. Many of them have been eating things from the bush to try and survive, and they are sleeping in the forest because of the fear of attacks," said Nthengwe.