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Cannibalism in Congo: UN begins investigation

February 20, 2004

KIGALI, Feb 19: The United Nations has launched an investigation into reports of cannibalism by Rwandan Hutu rebels hiding in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a spokesman said on Thursday.

Thousands of the rebels are lurking in eastern Congo, where many of them fled after taking part in Rwanda's 1994 genocide, and their presence in the volatile region is seen as the main threat to Congo's fragile peace process.

"We are opening an investigation into these reports of cannibalism," said Sebastien Lapierre, a spokesman for the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC), in Bukavu, an eastern lakeside town on the Congo-Rwanda border.

Lapierre said there had been an attack by Hutu rebels on Kanyola, about 60 km southwest of Bukavu, and said the United Nations was sending human rights officials and military observers to the area to investigate the reports. "There are a lot of wild rumours and speculation here, but if it's true, then it's a very serious matter," he said. -Reuters