Congo mass graves bear witness to growing violence

A mass grave of Congolese rebels seen by Reuters belies the increasingly brutal nature of fighting in the country that became worse after its president, Joseph Kabila, refused to step down at the end of his term.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (REUTERS) - These mass graves recently found in the Democratic Republic of Congo bear witness to the increasing brutality of several conflicts in the country.

Eight sites in total in one province.

The bodies are thought to be of rebel fighters from the Kamuina Nsapu militia.

This red headband part of their uniform.

It's not clear how many are buried, yet the UN believes government forces killed 84 of the rebels in the area last month.

The government says the insurgents made the graves.

But one local farmer told Reuters that they saw a government truck dumping bodies at one site.

She, like other witnesses, asked that her name be withheld, fearing the army would seek retribution.

This video obtained by Reuters last month is said to show government soldiers gunning down suspected militia members, men and women, armed with sling shots.

The rest is too graphic to show here.

Kamuina Nsapu is one of several militia groups operating in Congo and human rights groups have accused them of using child soldiers.

However, after decades of bloodshed and millions of deaths, the violence had appeared to ease in recent years - although divisions still existed over land, ethnicity, and mineral rights.

Conflict flared again after president Joseph Kabila refused to step down after the end of his term in December.

He now says he will step down after elections at the end of this year.

The DRC has not had a single peaceful transfer of power since gaining independence from Belgium in 1960.