GOMA, Congo (AP) -- While the international community is focused on the M23 rebellion, other armed groups have taken advantage of the security vacuum in eastern Congo, and killed over 260 people since April this year, a United Nations report said Wednesday.
"In April 2012, army desertions and the subsequent creation of the M23 armed group led the Congolese army to focus on efforts to contain this new rebellion. Many armed groups have taken advantage of the security vacuum left by the redeployment of army units to expand their own areas of influence," said the report.
A series of six investigations by the U.N. has determined that the Raia Mutomboki and Nyatura armed groups were responsible for most of the 75 massacres in which at least 264 people died, including 83 children.
The actual number of victims is likely to be higher as not all massacres were investigated.
The Raia Mutomboki -- meaning "Angry Villagers" in Swahili -- is a Congolese armed group that was created in South Kivu in 2008 to defend the local population against the exactions of the FDLR, a Hutu militia of fighters who helped perpetrate the 1994 Rwandan genocide and who have operated in eastern Congo since then.
For several years the Raia Mutomboki restricted their operations to South Kivu, but in early April, they became active in the Walikale and Masisi territories of North Kivu as the Congolese army left these two areas to redeploy in the Rutshuru territory and fight the M23.
"If you want to put an end to red ants attacks, you have to go to their nest. When we finished operations here in (South Kivu) we thought that the FDLR can come back. If we neutralize Masisi we know we can put an end to the FDLR," said Juriste Kikuni, the Ra
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.