U.N. names 3 rights experts to probe mass killings in Congo

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(Adds government reaction)
    GENEVA/KINSHASA, July 26 (Reuters) - The United Nations
named three human rights experts on Wednesday to lead an
international investigation into killings and other crimes in
the Kasai region of Democratic Republic of Congo, a move that
risks a showdown with the government.
    Congo has insisted that its own justice system is in charge
of the inquiry with the United Nations providing "technical or
logistical support". Some Western states and campaign groups
said they had hoped for a stronger U.N. mandate. [nL8N1JK1ZD]
    The announcement came a day after the U.N. Joint Human
Rights Office in Congo (UNJHRO) accused "elements" of the
Congolese army of digging most of dozens of mass graves
discovered in recent months in Kasai. [nL5N1KG74F]
    Bacre Waly Ndiaye, a U.N. investigator from Senegal, will
lead a fact-finding team that includes Luc Cote, a Canadian who
worked on a previous U.N. inquiry into Congo atrocities, and
Mauritania's Fatimata M'Baye.
    They were named by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human
Rights, who has called for perpetrators to be prosecuted,
including the pro-government Bana Mura militia that he said had
cut off childrens' limbs and sliced open pregnant women.
    Government spokesman Lambert Mende played down any
differences over the investigators' mandate as "semantic" and
said the Kinshasa government had instructed its embassies to
help the experts procure visas.
    But he sharply criticized the U.N.'s findings from Tuesday
on the mass graves. "Before the investigators arrive, they have
already designated the guilty," Mende said.
    More than 3,000 people have been killed and 1.4 million
displaced in the violence, part of a wave of unrest that has
worsened since President Joseph Kabila refused to step down when
his mandate expired in December.
    The U.N. Human Rights Council's resolution launching the
inquiry last month cited reports of "recruitment and use of
child soldiers, sexual and gender-based violence, destruction of
houses, schools, places of worship and state infrastructure by
local militias, as well as of mass graves".
    Kinshasa has been fighting insurgents in the Kasai region
since August and there are fears of a wider conflict in the vast
central African country, a tinderbox of ethnic rivalry and
competing claims over mineral resources.

 (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva and; Aaron Ross in
Kinshasa; Editing by Joe Bavier/Mark Heinrich)
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