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UN finds at least 15 mass graves in Congo after December violence

At least 15 mass graves were discovered in the northwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo after three days of bloodshed in December, a representative of the MONUSCO mission in the Congo said on Tuesday.

Earlier in January, according to the United Nations, at least 890 people were killed as a result of the violence, which was one of the worst in the region in recent years, which indicates an unstable state of inter-ethnic relations even in more peaceful regions of Central African country. ,

According to a spokesman for Florence Marchal, a special mission of MONUSCO, studying the circumstances of the fighting, found at least 11 mass graves and 43 individual graves in the vicinity of the city of Yumbi and at least four mass graves containing at least 170 bodies in the nearby Bogende.

“Although the findings of this mission are still being finalized, we can confirm that several hundred people, including women and many children, were killed in unbearable circumstances,” she said.

“The speed, course of action, and high mortality from this violence suggest that these events were planned and deliberated,” she said.

The controversy associated with the funeral of the chief of the tribe, is seen as a catalyst for the struggle between the Banun and Batende communities. This led the government to cancel the vote in the area in the presidential election last month.

Although the bloodshed was not directly linked to the December 30 vote, a local activist told Reuters at the time that tensions between the two ethnic groups had intensified because Batende’s leaders supported the ruling coalition, while Banun’s leaders supported opposition candidates.

Marshall said the area is currently relatively calm, but warned: "The tension between the two communities is still very obvious and could get worse."

Protecting the volatile security situation in the Congo will be one of the key challenges for President Felix Tshisekedi, who on January 24 took the oath at the first transfer of power in the Congo to the elections over 59 years of independence.

The country remains highly volatile years after the official end of the regional war of 1998–2003 in the eastern border areas with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, which led to millions of deaths, mainly from starvation and disease. Dozens of militias continue to destroy these areas.

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