Fifteen civilians, a soldier and a rebel were killed in attacks by a jihadist rebel group against villages in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to a new report given this Sunday by local authorities.
On Saturday, fresh attacks by Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels in Bandiboli, a village in the volatile Ituri province, killed five civilians, according to the province’s military governor, Colonel Siro Samba.
The “Central Africa” branch of the Islamic State
The day before, local officials had reported 10 civilians killed in initial fighting, one in Bandiboli and nine in the neighboring village of Kandoyi. An army captain and an ADF fighter were also killed in the fighting, according to Colonel Simba.
The ADF, presented by the jihadist group Islamic State as its branch in Central Africa (Iscap, in English), are accused of the massacres of thousands of civilians since 2014 in the DRC, and of abuses in neighboring Uganda.
These latest announcements bring to nearly 40 the number of civilians killed Friday and Saturday in Ituri by militias or jihadist groups.
More than 120 militias identified
On Friday evening, Zaire militia rebels entered Damascus, a village in Djugu territory of Ituri province, and killed 22 people there, according to the Congolese army and a leader of a local village group, who added that 16 other people had been seriously injured.
The Zaire militia defines itself as a self-defense group of members of the Hema ethnic group, particularly in the face of attacks by another militia, the Cooperative for the Development of Congo (Codeco), which claims to represent the rival Lendu ethnic group. Violence resumed in 2017 in this province rich in gold, attributed in particular to the emergence of Codeco, considered one of the most deadly armed groups and active for more than twenty-five years in eastern Congo.
More than 120 militias are registered in eastern DRC, where they have fueled violence for nearly 30 years. Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi last year placed Ituri and the neighboring province of North Kivu under the control of security forces in an attempt to reduce violence there, but this has so far not stemmed the attacks on civilians.