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Arrest made in Congolese gang rapes

Oct. 6, 2010 at 2:08 PM

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- U.N. and Congolese forces captured a leader of the Mai Mai militia accused of orchestrating mass gang rapes in the country, a U.N. official announced.

A U.N. human rights report claimed members of the Mai Mai militant group along with members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda gang-raped hundreds of women and several men from July 30-Aug. 2.

U.N. peacekeepers and members of the Congolese military captured "Lt. Col. Mayele" of the Mai Mai militia in connection with the mass rapes, the U.N.'s news service reports.

Margot Wallstrom, the U.N. special envoy on sexual violence, said the arrest was "very good news" for the Congolese people.

"It is a victory for justice, especially for the many women who have suffered rapes and other forms of sexual violence," she said.

Wallstrom was sent to the Congo to lead the investigation into the rapes by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in the area deflected criticism that it ignored warnings that surfaced days before the rapes occurred some 20 miles from their base.

The U.N. Security Council was called on to consider targeted sanctions against the rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda and the Mai Mai militia for their role in the mass rapes.

The U.N. Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo launched Operation Shop Window in early September to ramp up security in border regions where the rapes occurred.

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