, KINSHASA, May 16 – At least 60 people were killed last weekend in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo during attacks blamed on Rwandan Hutu rebels, the country’s UN mission said Friday, almost doubling its last toll.
In a statement, MONUC spoke of a "massacre" during a "murderous raid" by rebels "against the civilian population" in Busurungi, a Nord-Kivu village located near Sud-Kivu province.
"A special helicopter mission… arrived at the scene (Thursday) and has now established a situation of total desolation.
"The area is completely deserted and has been destroyed by flames," it added.
The killings took place in an attack on May 9 and 10.
According to a UN military source contacted by AFP, the locals were "killed by bullet or with machetes."
The midweek tally given by the UN mission known as MONUC was 35, with another two dozen now reported injured in the bloody rampage after inspectors descended on the town.
Three women and a child are classed as seriously wounded "massacre survivors" and have been taken for specialist hospital treatment, the mission added.
"Several local sources and witnesses have pointed the finger at the FDLR (the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) which has attacked several villages over the past few weeks," MONUC said Wednesday.
A large number of people have left the village — home to about 15,000 people — and headed north towards Hombo, some 20 kilometres (12 miles) away, the UN mission added.
There have been clashes between the FDLR and Congolese armed forces in the area, a military spokesman said.
Government soldiers were also reportedly killed and wounded in the fighting.
The FDLR rebels have been operating out of eastern DR Congo since the aftermath of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide by Hutu extremists against the Tutsi minority.
Some of its members are accused of being among the main perpetrators of those massacres.
The Congolese army launched a joint operation with Rwanda’s armed forces in late January against the Rwandan Hutu rebels in Nord-Kivu province.
However, they remain active — some having fled to Sud-Kivu, where the Congolese army and MONUC are currently planning fresh operations.