At least 16 people were killed in an attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) conflict-plagued east, believed to be the work of rebels, military and local sources said.
According to local civilian sources, the victims of Monday’s attack, including two women, had been taken hostage weeks earlier by members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
DR Congo extends ‘state of siege’ in violence-hit eastern region Will military action stop violence in eastern DR Congo? ADF rebels killed 57 civilians in DR Congo’s Ituri region: UN
The hostages were knifed to death along a main highway near Idohu, in the restive Ituri province, local official Dieudonne Malangai said on Tuesday.
Ituri’s military governor, Johnny Luboya Nkashama, speaking in Komanda, some 40km (25 miles) from the incident, condemned the killings.
“We will reinforce our presence in the region,” he told the AFP news agency. The vast central African country’s government has placed Ituri and the neighbouring North Kivu province under a state of siege since May, stepping up the fight against armed groups.
The ADF is the deadliest of the armed groups operating in the region. The group has been active in the mineral-rich eastern DRC for 30 years.
The DRC’s Catholic Church has said the ADF has killed approximately 6,000 civilians since 2013, while a US-based monitor, the Kivu Security Tracker (KST), blamed it for more than 1,200 deaths in the Beni area alone since 2017.
On May 6, the government imposed a state of siege to try to end the bloodshed. Violent attacks have since continued, but Justice Minister Rose Mutombo said numerous militia fighters had surrendered and the army had seized control of new areas.
“Much remains to be done, and the recent volcanic eruption of Nyiragongo, which occurred in the middle of a state of siege, has forced the government to concentrate its efforts in dealing with this natural disaster,” Mutombo said.
The eruption on May 22 sent rivers of lava streaming through the outskirts of the city of Goma, killing at least 31 people and making 20,000 homeless, according to United Nations figures.
The state of siege also failed to prevent the killing of at least 55 people by rebel fighters on Monday, potentially the worst night of violence the area has seen in at least four years.
On Wednesday, 11 miners in the gold-rich territory of Djugu, in the northeastern province of Ituri, were killed by a local group called the Patriotic Force and Integrationist of Congo (FPIC), Mungwalu district mayor Jean-Pierre Pikilisende told AFP news agency.
Pikilisende said the rebel fighters had come to take control over the area, whose gold is mined by poor artisanal diggers.
The Kivu Security Tracker (KST), a respected NGO that monitors violence in eastern DRC, said 12 people had been executed.—Agencies