The mutilated bodies of 280 people have been found in the town of Bunia in eastern Congo after days of fighting between tribal militias, a U.N. official said Wednesday.
The U.N. has called for an emergency peacekeeping force in the region, where youths armed with spears, knives and bows and arrows have been battling since early May. Britain and France have said they would consider joining the force.
About 17,000 people have fled their homes in terror since fighting between the Hema and Lendu tribal militias erupted after Ugandan troops withdrew from Bunia. Uganda is one of several countries that intervened in Congo’s many-sided conflict.
Bunia has been calmer since militia members and President Joseph Kabila signed a cease-fire that took effect Saturday.
“We are assisting the local Red Cross to discover bodies. The count was 280,” said Hamadoun Toure, a U.N. spokesman.