Bunia – Dozens of people were killed in attacks on villages and a centre for the internally displaced in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s northeastern Ituri province, a military source and monitor said on Monday.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source told AFP that attacks on Sunday night in Djugu territory resulted in “dozens of deaths”.
The Kivu Security Tracker (KST), a respected US-based monitor of violence in the region, had initially reported a death toll of 107, but revised that number down to 29 on Monday evening.
“The vast majority of the dead are civilians,” KST said, adding that the attacks were carried out by militia fighters from the armed group Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO), which claims to defend the interests of the Lendu community.
A majority of those at the displaced people’s camp in Drodro village were members of the rival Hema community, KST told AFP.
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The army spokesperson in Ituri, Lieutenant Jules Ngongo, said “the enemy went so far as to burn down a camp for the displaced.”
“It constitutes a war crime and a crime against humanity,” Ngongo added.
A source from the UN’s mission in DR Congo Monusco told AFP that 16,000 displaced people from Drodro, as well as villagers fleeing the violence, had been taken to a nearby displaced people’s camp in Roe, near a temporary peacekeeper base, where 21,000 people were already living.
Gold-rich Ituri province has been plunged back into a cycle of violence since late 2017 with the rise of the Codeco militia, which has since split into rival factions.
Ituri and neighbouring North Kivu have been under a state of siege since May 6, an exceptional measure to combat armed groups, including Codeco and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). Civilian authorities have been replaced by military and police officers.
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