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Priest alleges cannibalism in Congo

Allegations of cannibalism once again circulated in troubled northeastern Congo, with terrified witnesses describing the mutilation and eating of the dead during more than a week of tribal fighting that killed scores and forced thousands to flee.

Church leaders and residents in Bunia, the capital of the Ituri district, said yesterday that Lendu tribal fighters killed civilians and combatants, cutting open their chests and ripping out hearts, livers and lungs, which they ate while they were still warm.

Superstitious beliefs, inexplicable hatred and a desire to settle old scores were the driving forces behind the acts of cannibalism, said Fr Joseph Deneckere, a Belgian priest who has lived in Congo since 1970.

"Some of the victims had their sexual organs missing after the tribal fighters cut them off to use in their charms," Fr Deneckere said.

Fighting in Bunia subsided on Friday but the town remained tense and frightened residents said they were terrified at the thought of it flaring up again.

Sydney Morning Herald

Moves to end DR Congo clashes (BBC)
U.N. searches for missing personnel in Congo (AP)
Heavy Fighting Rages in Congolese Town (Inter Press Service)

21 May 2003