One of the Shona women grew up in Kiwanja. Almost all of her family continue to live there.
Two weeks ago, at the beginning of their successful march to Goma, Nkunda's rebels took the town of Kiwanja. They began setting up their own administration in the area, and a week later, were surprised by an attack from a pro-government militia. The militia gained control of the town, but after several days of fierce fighting, Nkunda's rebels retook the town. When reporters and aid agencies were finally able to enter Kiwanja, they found many bodies. At the first count it was twelve civilians (or fighters dressed in civilian clothes). Human Rights Watch is now investigating at least fifty deaths from this incident. Many claim that there were over two hundred killed.
Throughout this time, phone connections have been cut and our Shona woman was unable to learn what had happened to her family. Just yesterday she got news that her cousin's husband, brother in law and 2 week old child all were killed in the fighting. She has received confirmation of this news from several sources, but does not know how they were killed or by whom. She has an older sister with three children, an older brother with three children, and two younger brothers who were all living in Kinwanja at the time. No one has been able to give her any information about what might have happened to them. They could be among the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing in circles around Eastern Congo, at a loss as to where to run this time. They could be injured. It is impossible to know.
Please keep her family, as well as all the innocent people caught in the middle of this fighting, in your thoughts and prayers.