Fifteen civilians, a soldier and a rebel were killed in attacks by a jihadist rebel group on villages in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), according to a new report presented by local authorities this Sunday.
On Saturday, five civilians were killed in renewed attacks by Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels in Bandiboli, a village in volatile Ituri province, according to the province’s military governor, Colonel Siro Samba.
The “Central Africa” branch of the Islamic State
The day before, local officials reported that ten civilians had been killed in initial fighting, one in Bandiboli and nine in the neighboring village of Kandoyi. An Army captain and an ADF fighter were also killed in the fighting, according to Colonel Simba.
The ADF, presented by the jihadist group Islamic State as an offshoot in Central Africa (Iscap, in English), has faced allegations of massacres of thousands of civilians in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and abuses in neighboring Uganda since 2014.
These latest announcements bring the number of civilians killed by militia or jihadist groups in Ituri on Friday and Saturday to almost 40.
Over 120 militia identified
On Friday night, rebels from the Zaire militia entered Damascus, a village in Djugu territory in Ituri province, killing 22 people there, according to the Congolese army and a leader of a local village group, who added that 16 others were seriously injured be.
The Zaire militia defines itself as a self-defense group of members of the Hema ethnic group, particularly in the face of attacks by another militia, the Congo Development Cooperative (Codeco), which claims to represent the rival Lendu ethnic group. Violence erupted again in this gold-rich province in 2017, largely due to the emergence of Codeco, considered one of the deadliest armed groups and active in eastern Congo for more than 25 years.
More than 120 militias are registered in eastern DRC, where they have been fomenting violence for almost 30 years. Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi last year placed Ituri and neighboring North Kivu province under security forces’ control in a bid to reduce violence there, but this has so far failed to stem attacks on civilians.