Niangara: The young woman with the
hacked-off lips and stitches where one ear used to be shakes
her head when asked why rebels did this to her, then whispers
that the attackers who came from across the river were angry
because she kept crying for mercy and calling on God for help.
Cornelia Yekpalile, a 23-year-old mother of four
children, was mutilated 18 days ago when she went to the
fields near her village of Kpizimbi, set in dense forest in
northeast Congo, to collect spinach-like pondu leaves to cook
It`s an area so difficult to reach that UN officials
on Saturday announced a previously unreported massacre that
occurred two months ago: up to 100 people were killed when the
rebel Lord`s Resistance Army attacked a village.
UN humanitarian chief John Holmes said he learned of
the killings yesterday when he visited Niangara, the nearest
town which he reached by helicopter, and met with local
officials and victims who escaped.
UN investigators said they have spoken with witnesses
but so far have been unable to reach the remote scene in
the Haut-Uele district of Congo`s Oriental province.
It comes two months after one of the worst massacres
recently committed by the LRA, the killings of more than 300
civilians in the area in the second week of December. Rebels
also kidnapped more than 250 people including 80 children,
according to the UN.
"In this district, the Lord`s Resistance Army has
continued to commit horrific atrocities against civilians, who
are now displaced with no prospect of going back home any time
soon," Holmes said.
Saturday, on the third day of a four-day tour from his
New York headquarters. The latest attacks highlight the need
for the continued presence in Congo of the UN military
mission, Holmes said.