Nearly 200 women gang-raped in rebel-held northern Congo town

     Nearly 200 women have been gang-raped in a northern Congo town by Rwandan Hutu FDLR insurgents and Mai Mai militia. The Scotsman quoted Stefania Trassari, a spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as saying: "During the attack (the rebels] looted houses and raped several women in Luvungi and surrounding areas." "International Medical Corps reported that FDLR systematically raped the population during its four-day stay in Luvungi and surrounding areas. A total of 179 cases of sexual violence were reported," Trassari added. Humanitarian group the IMC said it was treating the victims. In a statement it said: "Nearly all reported rapes were described as having been perpetrated by two to six armed men, often taking place in front of the women's children and husbands." The UN has withdrawn 1,700 peacekeepers in recent months in response to calls from the Congo government to end the mission next year, but it still supports operations against several armed groups in the east. Roger Meece, the new head of the UN mission MONUSCO, said last week the rebels were still a huge threat to the population and the UN would keep trying to wipe them out.

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