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More than 8,000 cases of rape were reported last year in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s eastern Kivu provinces, where government forces are battling rebel fighters, the United Nations humanitarian agency said.

Of the rapes, “a vast majority were committed by armed groups, including the national army,” the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in an e-mailed report today.

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More than 1 million people were displaced by fighting in the Kivu provinces last year amid clashes between the UN-backed Congolese army and a Rwandan ethnic Hutu rebel group, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, OCHA said. Some FDLR leaders fled to Congo after allegedly participating in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, which killed an estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus.

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