Militia kills 16 villagers in DR Congo

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Militia fighters have killed 16 people in a raid on a village in North-Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday, officials say.

Administrative official Henry Juga Trilo said the CODECO militia, mostly from the Lendu ethnic group assaulted the village of Moussa which is home mainly to the Hema ethnic group in Ituri province early on Wednesday.

He said they killed four men, six women and six girls and stole several goats.

An army spokesman and a UN source confirmed the attack on the village, 60 km (40 miles) northeast of the city of Bunia and near the border with Uganda.

Last week, the United Nations warned that killings, beheadings, rape and other barbaric acts committed by CODECO may constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Since June 2018, more than 1.2 million people have been displaced in Ituri province as a result of militia killings.

Rich in natural resources, Ituri experienced some of the country’s most vicious fighting between 1999 and 2007, after a power struggle between rebel groups descended into ethnic bloodshed, mostly between the Hema and Lendu communities.

After a decade of relative calm, severe fighting resumed in December 2017, reviving longstanding tensions over land. The unrest has since evolved into more coordinated attacks by the CODECO militia on the army and the Hema group.

According to reports, fighting by an array of armed groups in the region has complicated Congo’s response to outbreaks of Ebola and the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Olajumoke Adeleke