NEW YORK, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- At least 1,000 civilians have been killed in the Republic of Congo's campaign to drive Rwandan rebels out of its eastern region, a U.N. official says.
Philip Alston, the special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, said Thursday the badly planned and disorganized operation supported by the United Nations has led to "predictable and repeated killing," The Washington Post reported. He said Congolese soldiers at times have done the most damage to civilians.
"Hundreds of thousands have been displaced, thousands raped, hundreds of villages burnt to the ground and at least 1,000 civilians killed," Alston said.
He reported that some of the most extreme violence was intended as punishment to villages for supporting the government or rebels. Women, girls and even infants have been sexually assaulted by having objects inserted into their bodies, and pregnant women have had fetuses torn from their bodies, he said.
"Women have, in fact, quite literally been raped to death," he added.
Violence in the eastern Congo, which became a base for Hutus from Rwanda after the 1994 genocide there, has killed as many as 5 million people.