Bunia – The bodies of at least 14 civilians and eight members of a notorious militia were discovered in a town in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday, local officials said.
Jean-Pierre Bikilisende, the mayor of Mongbwalu in Ituri province, said the 22 dead bodies were discovered following clashes between the CODECO militia and Congolese troops in the town.
He explained that militia fighters had been staging attacks since Tuesday in a bid to free fellow fighters captured by Congolese security forces.
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“For the moment, the situation is under control,” Bikilisende said.
But Godefroid Malabo, who works at a health clinic in Mongbwalu, said the remains of 17 civilians were buried on Thursday.
AFP was unable to independently confirm the death toll.
The Congolese army did not respond to requests for comment.
The CODECO – the Cooperative for the Development of the Congo – is a political-religious sect that claims to represent the interests of the Lendu ethnic group.
It is considered one of the deadliest of the more than 120 militias operating in the troubled east of the country, and has been blamed for a number of ethnic massacres in Ituri.
Last year, Congo’s government put security officials in charge of Ituri and neighbouring North Kivu province in a bid to curb violence, but the attacks continue.