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`1,000 dead in Congo ethnic violence'

Kigali April 7. At least 1,000 people have been killed in ethnic violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the United Nations has said, one day after the signing of an accord to end over four years of war in the vast Central African country.

The massacres, which took place on Thursday in the north-eastern region of Ituri, claimed ``at least 1,000 victims'', said the U.N. mission in the DRC in a statement yesterday sent to AFP's office in the Rwandan capital Kigali.

It said this information came from ``witness accounts'' of the massacres, which took place in the parish of Drodo and 14 neighbouring areas.

According to lists compiled by local leaders, 966 people were ``summarily executed'' in three hours of massacres, said the U.N. mission, which on Saturday sent a team to Drodo and the surrounding areas.

The U.N. mission said it had visited 49 seriously injured victims in a local hospital. Most had machetes wounds and some had been hit by bullets.

The team had also witnessed ``20 mass graves, identifiable by traces of blood that was still fresh''.

The U.N. mission, MONUC, said it would continue its investigations to identify those responsible for the bloodletting.

The DRC Minister for Human Rights, Ntumba Luaba, called the MONUC to help catch the killers.

``MONUC, which has already gathered some information on the massacre, must quickly pursue its investigation so the perpetrators don't remain unpunished,'' he told AFP in a telephone interview from the capital Kinshasa.

The violence came one day after the warring parties in the Democratic Republic of Congo signed a historic pact on Wednesday to end more than four years of brutal warfare. — AFP

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