Kasai-Central Province, DRC
A boy walks past the ruins of the destroyed house of customary chief Kamuina Nsapu, whose death last August sparked months of fighting between the government army and the Kamwina Nsapu militia in Tshimbulu near Kananga REUTERS/Aaron Ross

Two disturbing new videos have emerged in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that appear to show members of the armed forces targeting unarmed civilians, including children, in the restive Kasaï region.

Kasaï, in the heart of the DRC, has been plagued by violence between the Congolese security forces and a local militia, Kamwina Nsapu, who are seeking to avenge their leader, Kamuina Nsapu's Kamuina's death in August 2016.

Last month, a separate seven-minute video emerged showing men dressed in the Congolese army (FARDC) uniform opening fire and summarily executing a group of suspected Kamwina Nsapu militiamen, killing at least eight of them in Mwanza Lomba in Kasaï-Oriental. Most of the victims were unarmed.

The authorities later confirmed seven soldiers had been arrested on suspicion of committing crimes against humanity, murder, mutilation, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and denial of information after two mass graves were discovered around Mwanza Lomba.

The new videos seen by RFI appear to be dated 12 August 2016, the day when the militia's leader was killed during a military attack. The videos were recorded by two different narrators but the bodies of the victims are the same – young people and children mowed down by bullets. Victims are wearing a red band, that symbolises militia membership.

Kamuina Nsapu militiamen
A file photo of militiamen belonging to the Kamina Nsapu armed group Centre d'Analyse et de Stratégies

In the first video, a soldier gives a detailed report of the military operation. He is heard describing how Chief Kamuina Nsapu was wounded, and confirms who the victims are. "That is the Kamwina Nsapu militia – small children of eight years, nine years," the soldier says, as he films the bodies one after the other before blaming the militia's leader for the children's deaths.

"You, Kamuina Nsapu, you are having others' little children killed. We won't miss you," the soldier says before adding that "rule of law must prevail through strength".

In the second video, which shows the same scene, the narrator insults the victims. Overlooking the dying children, the soldier speaks of "lies", in reference to a potion given to Kamwina Nsapu fighters supposed to make them invulnerable.

These latest videos come after two other videos emerged on social media in February, and could shed some light on the recently discovered mass graves suspected of containing the bodies of militiamen across the Kasaï.

Authenticated by RFI, the first video dated January 2017 could partly explain the mass graves unearthed around Tshimbulu.

Shocking footage
Screenshot of the seven-minute footage appears to show men dressed in army uniform opening fire on a group of unarmed civilians, killing at least eight of them, including women and children New York Times

In the footage, a soldier is heard saying he fired a rocket-propelled rocket on suspected Kamwina Nsapu militiamen, and gives details of an arm and a blown-up head. He is seen speaking next to the bodies of a man, and a young boy, which he describes as a "dead great chief" and a "little Kamwina Nsapu". At least eight mass graves have been discovered within a 5km radius from the town of Tshimbulu since the beginning of the year.

In all five videos, the bodies of the victims are filmed slowly, and the soldiers give detailed accounts of the military operations, and locality – Kabundi and Mfuamba in the August 2016 videos, Mwanza Lomba in December 2016, and Tshimbulu in January 2017.

According to RFI, giving such information seems to reveal a certain willingness from the soldiers to document these military operations. In a report, RFI asked: "Are these soldiers responding to orders? In any case, these common factors strike one as to questioning whether these can be isolated exactions. In these videos, the narrator is often not alone, but surrounded by others, military as policemen."

The Congolese government is yet to comment, but these new videos are likely to be of interest to the Congolese military justice who promised to send a field mission this week to investigate the abuses committed by both security forces and Kamwina Nsapu fighters.