400,000 displaced by recent militia attacks in Congo's mineral-rich southeast

The U.N. says 400,000 people have been displaced in recent months by fighting involving local militia groups in Congo's mineral-rich southeast Katanga province.

Yvon Edoumou, communications officer for the U.N.'s humanitarian agency in Congo, said Monday that the violence had targeted at least 20 villages since October. Edoumou said groups including Mai Mai Bakata-Katanga, which is fighting for the province's independence, are believed to have been involved.

Lt. Gen. Carlos Santos Cruz, force commander for Congo's peacekeeping mission, said during a press briefing last week that the U.N. would deploy a new unit to Katanga's Pweto town, which he said formed part of a "triangle of death."

In an open letter last week, Catholic bishops in the province requested more peacekeepers be deployed to Katanga to combat mounting insecurity.