UN Helpless as Congo Rebels Go on Rape Spree
Rebels terrorize town a few miles from UN base
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2010 5:33 PM CDT
In this Oct. 3, 2009 file photo, United Nations peacekeepers patrol near their encampment in the village of Kimua, deep in the heart of territory controlled by Rwandan Hutu rebels, in eastern Congo.   (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

(Newser) – Congolese and Rwandan rebels continue to sow terror across eastern Congo, holding an entire town hostage earlier this month and gang-raping nearly 200 women and baby boys, the AP reports. The violence occurred only a few miles from a base of UN peacekeepers, but the force of 25 was unable to stop the 200 to 400 rebels: "When the peacekeepers approached a village, the rebels would run into the forest, but then the Blue Helmets had to move on to another area, and the rebels would just return," a local leader said.

Because of this strategy, there were no casualties or gunfighting—just four days of "lots of pillaging and the systematic raping of women," said Will Cragin of the International Medical Corps. Cragin said aid workers could only reach the victims when the rebels withdrew of their own accord—and by then it was too late to administer anti-HIV medication to all but three. At least 179 women and four boys aged 1 month, six months, a year, and 18 months were raped. "We keep going back and identifying more and more cases," says Cragin.