At least 321 civilians were killed in a previously unreported massacre in Congo in late 2009, while villagers that escaped were sent back with their lips and ears cut off as a warning to others of what would happen if they tried to talk, according to an investigation by a human rights group.
Human Rights Watch said in its report released Saturday that at least 250 more people were abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels, including at least 80 children. The Dec. 14 to 17 killing spree in at least 10 villages went unreported for months.
The majority of those killed were men who were tied up, some bound to trees, before being hacked to death with machetes or having their skulls crushed with axes. A 3-year-old girl was burnt to death, according to the report.
The rebels then abducted many children and women, who were forced to march more than 60 miles. Those who walked too slowly were executed and villagers told the rights group they found bodies all along the trail from Makombo to Tapili.
The LRA is considered one of Africa’s most brutal rebel armies, and its leaders are the subject of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant. A year earlier, after local governments attacked an LRA position, the rebels retaliated, killing at least 865 civilians in 2008, Human Rights Watch said.
Children abducted by the rebels were forced to execute other children who had disobeyed the rebels. In several instances, the children were ordered to circle their victim and take turns hitting the child on the head with a heavy object until the child died.