As many as 200 women were systematically gang-raped by Rwandan and Congolese rebels over a four-day period last month less than 20 miles from a U.N. peacekeeping base in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the United Nations and aid groups reported.
The Associated Press reported that four baby boys were also raped in the attacks that began in a key mining district on July 30. U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters today the rebels blocked a key road during the raping and looting spree.
The eastern Congo is known as the “rape capital of the world” where savage mobs use sexual violence to subdue the population and vie for control of the “conflict minerals” used to make cell phones and laptops around the world.
Between 200 and 400 armed men began looting and raping women in the village of Ruvungi, which lies near a key mining center, in front of their families and in their homes, The New York Times reported.
A local coordinator for the International Medical Corps, Will F. Cragin, told the Times that when the rebels arrived, they told villagers not to worry and explained they just there for “food and rest.
They lied, Cragin said.
“After dark another group came,” Cragin said. “They began to systematically rape the population. Most women were raped by two to six men at a time.”
Many women were dragged in the forest and gang-raped, Cragin said. Later they emerged from the forest naked.
The perpetrators have been identified as Hutu rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, which is made up in part of those who took part in the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
The FDLR is one of many predatory armies and militias that have been vying for political power and control of Congo’s vast mineral reserves – including gold, cassiterite and coltan — since the late 1990s.