Top Kabila commander named in Congo refugee massacres

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — A top military aide for Congolese President Laurent Kabila knew about the slaughter of thousands of Rwandan Hutus during Congo’s civil war and did nothing to stop it, a report by four human rights groups says.
James Kabari, a Rwandan Tutsi who serves as Kabila’s military chief of staff, supervised a special Rwandan military unit that killed about 2,000 Hutus last year in the northwestern Congolese town of Mbandaka, the report says. The massacre was committed with Kabari’s knowledge, it says.
The special unit, allied with Kabila’s rebel forces, also slaughtered thousands of other Hutus in refugee camps in eastern Congo, near the Rwandan border, according to the report, excerpts of which were obtained Sunday by The Associated Press.
The study, to be issued within the next few weeks, also implicates at least 24 other Rwandan commanders in mass killings during the rebellion to overthrow longtime dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. It also provides evidence that Kabila knew about the massacres, said an investigator familiar with the report, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The report is based on a joint investigation by the New York-based Human Rights Watch, the Canadian Center for Democracy and Human Rights, the International Human Rights Federation in Paris and a Congo-based rights monitoring group.
Government officials were not immediately available to comment on the report, but Kabila has repeatedly denied his forces committed atrocities against civilians. His government has said some people may have been killed inadvertently during the war.
Kabila’s government says Mobutu armed mercenary Rwanda Hutus during the rebel war and they were targeted, not civilians.