KINSHASA, 8 Jun 2005 (IRIN) - At least 1,700 people have fled villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) Katanga Province following attacks by Mayi-Mayi militiamen, a UN official told IRIN on Tuesday.
"The Mayi-Mayi raped seven women, eight under 18-year-olds and burnt eleven houses," Rachel Scott, the spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said.
The attacks had been occurring since late May in the villages of Manono, Mpiana, Kayongu and Nkumbu in Kalemie Territory in the north of Katanga, Scott said. The most recent was at Manono on 29 May, where civilians there fled 100 km northwest to Mpiana.
OCHA and the UN Children's Fund are providing first aid to the rape victims, and other humanitarian groups are assisting the displaced.
But "the civilians are continuing to flee fearing that the Mayi-Mayi could attack again", Scott said.
The attacks follow a dispute between the local population and the Mayi-Mayi militia over the reinstatement of a local chief, allied to the Mayi-Mayi.
The DRC's transitional government, installed in June 2004, recently began its disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration process for former combatants countrywide. However, Mayi-Mayi militias continue to destabilise the eastern parts of the country despite signing an agreement that would see them incorporated into the nation's newly integrated army.