KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo — The defense ministry in the Democratic Republic of Congo has launched a military inquiry after the discovery of three mass graves at Kibumba in the embattled east, officials said Monday.
A new commission of inquiry has been tasked with "clearly identifying the mass graves... and determining their scale as well as those responsible for these serious human rights violations in this place and on all territory controlled by negative forces," Defense Minister Alexandre Luba Ntambo said in a written order.
Last Friday, government troops fought fierce battles with the M23 rebel movement before taking control of most of the Kibumba region, which lies 25 kilometers (15 miles) north of Goma, the strategic capital of the mineral-rich, strife-torn North Kivu province.
During "mopping-up operations," the army discovered mass graves containing "the bones of adults and children," a ministry statement said.
"A better equipped team . . . will shortly be sent rapidly to evaluate the situation," it added.
On Sunday, North Kivu provincial governor Julien Paluku had announced the discovery of two common graves in Kibumba and asked for an international inquiry.
The M23 rebels, mainly Tutsi deserters from the ranks of the army who accuse Kinshasa of reneging on a 2009 peace pact, have been active since May 2012 in North Kivu. Fresh fighting between rebels and the army broke out on Friday, after the breakdown of peace talks in Uganda.
© AFP 2013