Murder, muddle and panic
Nov 6th 2008 | KINSHASA
From The Economist print edition
As chaos and massacres overwhelm north-eastern Congo, diplomats and peacekeepers are struggling to get a grip
“THE situation is catastrophic,” says a Red Cross man. “There’s no other word.” Tens of thousands of terrified civilians are jamming the roads of Congo’s North Kivu province in a frantic southbound exodus in the hope of self-preservation (see map). General Laurent Nkunda’s mainly Tutsi rebels are poised to grab the eastern city of Goma after capturing most of the smaller towns in the area. Reports of massacres on the night of November 5th in Kiwanja, a small town north of Goma, have increased the panic. An officer in General Nkunda’s force said that his men had “neutralised” men in civilian clothes there who, he said, covertly belonged to the so-called Mai-Mai militias; they, along with the Congolese army and others, have been fighting the Tutsi rebels. A local clergyman said at least 180 civilians had been killed during the night.