Bunia – Five headless bodies have been exhumed at a house in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Red Cross and civil protection sources said Thursday, one of whom said that ritual killings were suspected.
Three suspects have been transferred to Bunia, capital of Ituri province, where they were publicly interrogated on Wednesday by a military spokesperson, an AFP correspondent said.
Musasa Sasaka, the local representative of the government’s civil protection service, described the gruesome exhumation on Sunday, saying the decapitated heads were placed between the victims’ legs — a posture suggesting a possible “ritual crime”.
Relatives had reported the victims missing a few days before the killings in Ariwara, a town of 60,000 people in Ituri province near the borders with Uganda and South Sudan.
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One of the five was a radio personality, while another was a motorbike mechanic, according to Sasaka and Franco Envi, the local Red Cross coordinator, both reached by telephone.
A few weeks earlier, the remains of a police commander were found at the same address in similar circumstances, they said.
Under questioning by military authorities in Ituri, a province that has been placed under a “state of siege” because of armed groups, one of the suspects said the killings were carried out under the effects of “spells”.
Another said they had already killed 13 people, adding: “We cut their heads off like goats” in response to a question.
The third said: “We kill those who mistreat us. I killed (a shopkeeper) who owed me money and refused to pay it.”
Suspects in the Democratic Republic of Congo are often questioned in public before any charges are laid, with the interrogation sometimes broadcast on state television.
Ariwara is a major commercial centre some 350km northeast of Bunia.