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DRC hunting down former Mai Mai militiaman after rapes

KINSHASA - The Democratic Republic of Congo said at the weekend it was "actively" looking for an army colonel accused of presiding over an attack where up to 170 women may have been raped.

A spokesperson for the DR Congo armed forces (FARDC) had previously denied that Colonel Niragire Kifaru, a former rebel- turned-government soldier, was involved in the attacks.

Kifaru is "very actively sought," government spokesperson Lambert Mende told AFP.

"There are units that have been sent to try to catch him with his men," he added. "There are accusations of rape and looting against him. There will be a special judicial procedure to judge him."

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said that up to 170 people may have been raped during a massive attack between June 10 and June 12 in the Nyakiele and Abala villages in the troubled South Kivu province.

Shortly after the attacks area lawmaker Jean-Marie Ngoma said Kifaru and about 200 fighters under his command were responsible. Colonel Vianney Kazarama, spokesperson for the DRC armed forces (FARDC) in South Kivu, had also previously denied that Kifaru was involved in the rapes.

Kazarama admitted that Kifaru had deserted and "taken to the bush, because he wanted troops (being integrated into the army) to be taken into consideration, because they had no water and nothing to eat".

Kifaru is a former member of the Mai Mai tribal militia. The army has coaxed several former rebel commanders into the army with promises of high ranks and employment for the fighters.

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