|No impunity for army rapists, Congo says||
Ntambo told reporters in Kinshasa on Saturday that the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) carried out inquiries in December and February following battles between the army and the March 23 movement (M23), which briefly seized the main eastern city of Goma.
"Two hundred and two suspected rape victims have been heard, as well as 346 presumed looting victims. Given the high number of victims… further inquiries are needed," he said.
"When the investigation is completed, the responsibility of the suspected perpetrators will be established, and I can assure you they will be severely punished," Ntambo added.
On Thursday, a United Nations official said that Kinshasa had been issued a deadline in March to act against two army battalions accused of committing 126 rapes as the soldiers fled an M23 onslaught in November 2012.
In February, Human Rights Watch said that several Congolese women told their investigators that "soldiers in official army uniforms forced their way into the women's homes at night, pointed guns at them, and demanded money.
"The soldiers then threatened to kill the women if they refused to have sex with the soldiers or if they screamed for help. Some of the victims were gang-raped in front of their husbands and children by several soldiers operating together."
The M23 rebels seized Goma on November 20 after UN peacekeepers gave up the battle for the frontier city of one million people. M23 fighters withdrew from the city on December 1 under a ceasefire accord.
The M23 rebels defected from the Congolese Army in April 2012 in protest over alleged mistreatment in the FARDC. They had previously been integrated into the Congolese army under a peace deal signed in 2009.
Since early May 2012, nearly 3 million people have fled their homes in the eastern Congo. About 2.5 million have resettled in Congo, but more than 460,000 have crossed into neighboring Rwanda and Uganda.
Congo has faced numerous problems over the past few decades, such as grinding poverty, crumbling infrastructure, and a war in the east of the country that has dragged on since 1998 and left over 5.5 million people dead.
(Source: Press TV)
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