KINSHASA - The United Nations on Monday denounced armed groups in the restive east of the Democratic Republic of Congo for carrying out murders of civilians, looting and burning down entire villages.
For several weeks the Masisi territory in mineral-rich Nord-Kivu province "has been the scene of a number of assaults on civilians", said the UN's humanitarian coordinator in DR Congo, Moustapha Soumare, in a statement.
Soumare said he had received alarming reports of killings -- many based on ethnic origin -- by armed groups in the south of the territory where nearly 40 people died and villages set ablaze.
The homes of displaced people were pillaged and health centres which temporarily suspended their activities after medics fled were also targeted, he said.
"Even humanitarian aid distributed by the United Nations and NGOs was looted in places."
Dozens of local and foreign armed groups in Nord-Kivu have made the province particularly unstable -- some wreaking havoc for ethnic, territorial or economic reasons for nearly 20 years.
UN slams DR Congo killings, looting