U.N. report: Zairian rebels massacred refugees
April 8, 1997
Web posted at: 12:36 p.m. EDT (1636 GMT)
GENEVA (CNN) -- As Tutsi-led Zairian rebels pounded Zaire's
second largest city Tuesday, a U.N. human rights investigator
said they were responsible for the deaths of thousands of
civilians and Rwandan Hutu refugees during their fight to
take over the country.
Forces led by Laurent Kabila were a few miles outside
Lubumbashi, capital of the mineral-rich Shaba region, Tuesday
morning. Government radio predicted Lubumbashi's imminent
fall. With the capture of diamond capital Mbuji-Mayi on
Friday, the rebels would control the basis of Zaire's
But as the rebels pressed toward Zaire's capital Kinshasa,
U.N. investigator Roberto Garreton submitted a report
alleging that Kabila's troops have committed at least 40 mass
murders in Northern and Southern Kivu provinces since their
rebellion began last fall.
"What is described (in this report) is still going on, with
complete impunity," Garreton wrote. "It is indisputable
that (Kabila's army) is far from fulfilling its commitments
to respect human rights."
Garreton visited eastern Zaire late last month, where he was
shown three sites in Northern Kivu alleged to hold mass
graves and interviewed eyewitnesses and family members of
The number of people allegedly massacred was "undoubtedly
exaggerated," Garreton said, but the reports are serious
enough to warrant a through investigation and punishment for
those found guilty.
Talks yield no solution
A fourth day of peace talks aimed at resolving the Zairian
conflict ended Tuesday in South Africa with no answers, but
South African Deputy President Thabo Mbeki said the parties
were developing "a spirit of mutual trust."
In a statement released jointly by the delegations, the
parties said they had agreed to further talks.
"Both parties agreed on negotiations to bring about a
peaceful political solution to the conflict," said the
statement issued at a news conference attended by both
delegations. "This necessitates a complete cessation of
But while negotiators talked, rebel leader Kabila pledged no
compromise in his drive to topple President Mobutu Sese Seko,
who has ruled the country for 32 years. He said there would
be no power sharing with the president or anyone who supports
"We welcome everyone in the country who refuses to be
Mobutu's instrument," he said.
Meanwhile, in Washington the U.S. State Department flatly
rejected charges by Kabila that U.S. military forces
stationed near Zaire were prepared to interfere. Spokesman
Nicholas Burns said the troops, in Gabon, the Congo and off
the West African coast, would be used to evacuate American
citizens if necessary.
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