Militias using machetes and guns leave at least 23 dead in attacks on villages

2 weeks ago 15

An armed group using machetes and guns has killed 23 people in attacks on villages in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in recent days, authorities in the country have said.

The killings took place in the Ituri province, part of the Djugu territory, on Thursday and Friday.

They were carried out by the Cooperative for the Development of the Congo, (CODECO), Reuters said, quoting two local community leaders.

CODECO is one of many militias operating in the conflict-ridden east of the country.

Vital Tungulo, president of Djugu's Nyali-Kilo community, said: "Most of the victims were killed with machetes, but those who tried to flee were shot. In all these villages, people's belongings were taken, houses were burnt down."

The motive for the attacks was not clear but militia violence in Congo is linked to long-running competition for influence and the region's rich mineral resources.

The human rights situation in Ituri has deteriorated since the beginning of the year as CODECO carries out more attacks,
the UN peacekeeping mission said in a report in March.

CODECO and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), another militia, are responsible for most civilian killings in eastern DRC, the study said.

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A spokesperson for the DRC army in Ituri, Jules Ngongo Tshikudi, confirmed the attacks, describing them as unacceptable. Reuters reported it was not possible to reach CODECO for comment on the latest attacks.

Local resident and community leader Daniel Anikumu said they had started burying those killed, including the burial of 11
people in a mass grave in the village of Gangala.

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