Fighting between a militia and state security forces in central Democratic Republic of Congo killed as many as 50 people since Feb. 9, the United Nations said, citing unconfirmed reports.
Maman Sidikou, the head of the UN Mission in the Congo, “strongly condemns the actions of the Kamuina Nsapu militia in recruiting and using child soldiers” and is concerned about reports of “disproportionate use of force” by the Congolese military in response, the UN said in a statement e-mailed Saturday.
Hundreds of people have died in the past six months in the usually stable Kasai-Central province in fighting between security forces and the militia, whose leader Kamuina Nsapu died in August. Pockets of violence persist across Congo, Africa’s biggest copper producer, more than a decade after the end of a civil war that left millions dead.
Clashes restarted on Feb. 9 in the town of Tshimbulu, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south east of the provincial capital, Kananga, the UN said. Congolese security forces must “act in line with acceptable standards of national and international laws in their response to the situation,” it said.
The UN has more than 19,000 peacekeepers in Congo, but has a limited presence in the center of the country, having redeployed personnel to the more restive east since 2014. The UN mission sent one military company back to Kananga in December to protect civilians, it said.