Congo: Amnesty says Belgian mining firm evicted hundreds with help of government cover-up

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Amnesty International says a Belgian company destroyed hundreds of homes near a mine in southeastern Congo and lied about it for years with the help of a government cover-up.

A report released Monday said the demolitions, carried out by a subsidiary of the mining firm Groupe Forrest Internationale, began in 2009 near a copper and cobalt mine in Katanga province.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Amnesty said the company has previously blamed a "unilateral police action" while saying only temporary homes were affected.

Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty's global issues director, said Amnesty unearthed "irrefutable evidence" that the operation amounted to the forced eviction of hundreds of people including longtime residents.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende expressed surprise at the findings and said victims could file complaints.