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Killing of Congolese civilians highlights urgency of UN summit

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The reported murder of at least a dozen civilians by rebel forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo has underscored the urgency of today's summit of African and UN leaders, which will attempt to restore a regional ceasefire.

Reuters reports that the bodies of at least 12 people were found by UN peacekeepers and journalists in the village of Kiwanja, the day after Congolese Tutsi rebels, led by Gen. Laurent Nkunda, attacked the town, which the rebels said contained members of the pro-government Mai-Mai militia.

Kiwanja residents said Mr. Nkunda's National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) rebels had carried out the killings after taking control of the village in the latest flare-up of a conflict that traces its origins to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

"They knocked on the doors, when the people opened, they killed them with their guns," said Simo Bramporiki, aged around 60, who said his wife and child were killed last night.
Nkunda denied his men had killed civilians.
"It was against the Mai-Mai (militia) and many were in civilian dress," he told Reuters by telephone.

Reuters adds that a UN spokesman said the rebels could still be guilty of war crimes if those killed were Mai-Mai who had surrendered.

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