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UN steps up police presence in troubled province of DR Congo following violence

5 February 2007 The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has deployed an additional police unit in the troubled province of Bas-Congo, where more than 70 people were reportedly killed last week amid violent clashes following controversial local elections.

The police presence of the Mission (MONUC) was reinforced at the weekend as two UN multi-disciplinary teams arrived to investigate the circumstances around the violence in the province and the city of Matadi, UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters today.

Those teams will examine security issues and also the humanitarian needs of those injured or otherwise affected by the violence.

MONUC said it was deplorable that local police in Bas-Congo, in the far west of the vast country, had told the public that UN troops were responsible, and added that such misinformation had led angry youths to stone two UN vehicles earlier today.

MONUC has overseen the DRC’s transition from a six-year civil war that cost 4 million lives in fighting and attendant hunger and disease, widely considered the most lethal conflict since World War II, to gradual stabilization, culminating in the first democratic elections in over four decades last year, the largest and most complex polls the UN has ever helped to organize.

More recently it has been concerned with violence in the DRC’s far east, where certain army elements continue to harass and terrorize civilians while renegade forces who refuse to join in the demobilization and reintegration process have engaged in rape and other human rights abuses.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative William Lacy Swing voiced grave concern about what he called mounting evidence that Congolese security forces had conducted serious human rights abuses.

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