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UN Says More Than 125 Rapes During DR Congo Army Retreat

More than 125 women were raped as Democratic Republic of Congo troops pulled back from a rebel offensive last month, according to a UN investigation revealed Tuesday.
UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said nine government soldiers have been arrested so far for rapes and lootings in North Kivu province and UN officials raised concerns with the DR Congo government on Tuesday.

Two UN human rights teams have been investigating attacks in the town of Minova and surrounding villages between November 20 and 30 as the army retreated from advancing M23 rebels.

The rebels took the major city of Goma on November 20 and UN officials have said the army "melted away". The rebels have also been accused of widespread abuses in regions they took over before a ceasefire was brokered by East African nations.

UN investigators have interviewed more than 200 people, said Nesirky. "According to preliminary findings, the UN mission has documented at least 126 cases of rape. The teams were also able to confirm the killing of two civilians including one minor," he said.

The United Nations is "supporting" an investigation by the DR Congo army. Nesirky said that so far, two soldiers have beena arrested for rape and seven for looting around Minova.

Officials from the UN mission met on Tuesday with DR Congo vice prime minister and defense minister Mutombo Bakafwa Nsenda to discuss the rapes.

Under UN rules, the world body could end support from its peacekeepers to any army unit found to be involved in rapes and other rights abuses.

The UN has its biggest peacekeeping mission in DR Congo, much of its concentrated on the battle with M23.
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