Indian peacekeepers rescued seven women held by a militia group in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the UN said Friday as it expressed concern over a new wave of rape attacks in the now notorious region.
Scores of new rapes have been reported in Nord and Sud Kivu provinces by militia groups and the DR Congo army, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters.
The Indian peacekeepers on Thursday "successfully rescued seven women taken hostage by Mai-Mai fighters in the Nord Kivu village of Ntoto," Nesirky said.
UN troops cordoned off the village after inhabitants told the UN mission, MONUSCO, about the abductions. The women were freed after a two hour standoff which included negotiations, the spokesman added.
DR Congo has been called the "rape capital" of the world by one UN envoy on women in conflict with a wave of mass sexual assaults making international headlines in August last year as well as more recent attacks.
Nesirky said the UN mission is "concerned about a steady increase in rapes" in the Kivu provinces by foreign and Congolese armed groups and "elements of the Congolese armed forces" during January.
MONUSCO has stepped up "protection activities" in several areas to respond to the rapes including "stepped up patrol activities" and "joint protection teams."
Eleven troops including a commanding officer were detained after at least 50 women were raped in Fizi, Sud Kivu, during an operation to avenge the death of a soldier.
Nesirky said that since then another 53 rapes have been reported in the Moyen Plateau region, with rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda believed to be involved.