Congo: March 14, 2005


It looks like the UN's Ituri Brigade is continuing to pursue its "aggressive strategy" to deal with rogue militias. On March 12 the UN announced a new operation in the region. Described as a "cordon and search security operation," the UN said 800 troops (deployed as four companies) were participating in the operation. The area of operation is east of Bunia. The troops used transport helicopters backed by attack helicopters (so apparently there is an airmobile component to the operation). Meanwhile, there are reports of the return of "tribal slave raids." Lendu tribal militias are raiding Hema villages and taking prisoners. Those who are not needed for work or sex are killed. Some of the female prisoners, used as "sex slaves," have escaped to report the presence of the slave camps, where the captives are roped together in work gangs and forced to grow food. The slaves are kept in line by malnutrition, and the threat of death or amputation of  a hand, if they resist or try to escape. All of this is right out of Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," and are reminiscent of similar atrocities committed a century ago when the king of Belgium ran the Congo as a feudal fiefdom.  


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