The Democratic Republic of Congo government authorities reportedly arrested 75 suspected militiamen for allegedly raping 30 "very young girls" and murdering a German engineer and a local rights activist.
Minister of Justice Alexis Thambwe was quoted by Reuters as saying that a provincial lawmaker from eastern Congo's South Kivu province, Frederic Batumike, has been arrested along with 74 members of his militia this week. He added that Batumike has been accused of plotting the murder of German engineer Walter Muller and Congolese human rights activist Evariste Kasali.
According to a BBC report, the militia group associated the girls with supernatural protection.
The country has mostly recovered from an almost decade-long war but still faces rebel violence in eastern areas.
Girls as young as one-and-a-half year have been subjected to repeated rape near Kamuvu village in South Kivu. The Congolese government has been criticised internationally for allegedly not taking any action against the crime, the Reuters report stated.
"We welcome the authorities' action to put an end to these horrible practices and bring those responsible to justice," Jose Maria Aranaz, director of the UN human rights office in Congo, was quoted by the BBC as saying, while lauding the arrests made by the government.
Millions of people died due to hunger and disease during the conflict that lasted from 1998-2003, according to Reuters. Several armed groups operated in eastern Congo currently. Rights groups have accused both state and rebel forces of using rape as a weapon of war. According to the rights groups, sexual violence is still very much prevalent in Congo even after the government's attempt in reducing them.