Militia patrolling streets, refugees, aid workers help dig graves

1. Various, refugees at Bunia airport approaching plane
2. Wide shot, Lendu militia men patrolling on outskirts of Bunia
3. Mid shot, young militia man
4. Militia men sitting outside building
5. People gathered around United Nations APC
6. Young militia men sitting outside building
7. Bodies on streets on outskirts of Bunia
8. Mid shot, dogs
9. Various, bodies on streets
10. Various, Red Cross workers digging graves
Heavily armed fighters of two rival ethnic groups battled with machetes, mortars and assault rifles in the
streets of Bunia this month, killing more than 300 and sending thousands fleeing to UN compounds for safety.
Many local residents are quitting the area altogether, some, seen here on Wednesday, taking an internal flight to Congo’s capital Kinshasa.
The United Nations is investigating the discovery of more than 300 bodies, including 32 in a water tank, in the embattled town.
UN authorities are also investigating reports of cannibalism and other atrocities.
A small contingent of UN troops and aid workers have been trying to maintain peace in Bunia, where fighting erupted earlier this month after Uganda withdrew its more than 6-thousand troops from the area as part of a peace deal to end the civil war in Africa’s third-largest country.
Fighting subsided Friday, 16 May after the rival Hema and Lendu rival tribal factions signed a cease-fire agreement, although gunmen still patrolled the streets with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.
The UN mission in Congo was working with militia leaders to develop a plan to keep the different fighting groups separated.
France, South Africa, Pakistan and Nigeria have all expressed interest in possible troop contributions for an international force to help quell bloodletting in northeast Congo, a UN peacekeeping chief said on Friday.
Canada and Britain also are considering lending troops, Jean-Marie Guehenno, UN undersecretary-general for peacekeeping, said after meeting in Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, with Congo President Joseph Kabila.
By UN estimates, the Ituri conflict has killed 50-thousand and displaced another half-million since 1998.
Congo’s war overall is estimated by aid groups to have killed 3.3 (m) million, mostly through famine and disease.
About 800 UN Uruguayan troops already are in Bunia, charged with protecting UN cease-fire observers and UN property.
Jean-Marie Guehenno is to travel to Bunia on Sunday.

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