KINSHASA, 7 Apr 2005 (IRIN) - Nine women were killed and 5,300 civilians displaced in the Democratic Republic of Congo's southwestern province of Katanga following fighting between government troops and Mayi-Mayi militias, a UN official told IRIN on Wednesday.
The fighting took place on 17 March but information on the incident reached the capital, Kinshasa, late due to lack of communication with the village of Konga, 446 km northwest of the provincial capital, Lubumbashi, where the fighting took place.
An officer in charge of special investigations in the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC), Sonia Bakar, said a UN inter-agency meeting in Kinshasa on Friday discussed the incident.
"These people fled their village, heading to Mitwaba, 60 km to the south, after a Mayi-Mayi attack on the 17 March," she said.
Apart from the deaths, she said, the militias also mutilated some of the displaced people and burnt down 15 homes.
The head of public information in the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Rachel Scott, said the displaced had refused to return home, fearing insecurity.
"The rate of malnutrition [among the displaced] is 10 percent to 15 percent and some cases of food deficiency had also been noted in the camps for the displaced," she added.
Local humanitarian organisations are helping the displaced. The Red Cross has distributed clothing and other NGOs have provided medical aid.
Clashes between Mayi-Mayi groups and the Congolese army have been reported in the province in the past, often accompanied by allegations of rape, theft, kidnapping, assassination and cannibalism.