Tue Jul 5, 2011 2:18AM
Congolese women attend a march against sexual violence. (file photo)
A total of 248 women have reported being raped by soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo's eastern Sud-Kivu province in one night, local medical sources say.
A doctor at Nakiele hospital said on Monday that 121 local women had been raped during the night of June 11-12 in the region the UN has called the world's “rape capital,” AFP reported.
A nurse from Abala also said that 55 women reported that they were violated in the same night, while another health worker said that 72 women from the village of Kanguli said they were also raped the same night.
Kanguli and Abala are five and seven kilometers away from Nakiele respectively, in the Fizi area of Sud-Kivu.
Nakiele village chief Losema Etamo Ngoma stated that the rapes and looting were committed by at least 150 armed men under the command of national army colonel Nyiragire Kulimushi, also known as “Kifaru.”
He said that the soldiers arrived in groups from 11:00 a.m. (0900 GMT) on June 11, and “at about 8:00 p.m. I heard women's cries everywhere… They left the village in the morning at about 5:00 a.m. I went around the houses and I met women in tears.”
The UN, human rights groups, and foreign governments have long complained about the fact that soldiers in the Congo have been committing heinous crimes with impunity.
A study published in The American Journal of Public Health in May said that more than 400,000 women and girls, aged between 15 and 49, were raped in the war-torn Central African country during a 12-month period in 2006 and 2007, indicating that the level of sexual violence is 26 times higher than previous estimates.
The eastern Congo has experienced interminable cycles of violence since 1998.
The war in the Congo has dragged on for over a decade and left over 5.4 million people dead.
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