The Congolese police (PNC) on Monday accused rebels of killing 39 officers last week in the Kasai region in central Democratic Republic of Congo.
The PNC spokesperson said in a statement that the victims were killed Friday morning in an ambush by Kamwina Nsapu militiamen in Kamuesha, about 75 km northeast of Tshikapa, the capital of Kasai province, while they were traveling in two troop trucks.
Colonel Pierre-Rombaut Mwanamputu added that the 39 policemen were buried in a mass grave at the site of the massacre.
“The attackers also stole two police transport trucks … with a large cargo (equipment and maintenance equipment) within them,” said the officer.
The PNC condemned the killing and said that “urgent measures have been taken to bring an end to the insecurity in that part of the country.”
The Kasai region has been plagued by violence for more than six months between security forces and supporters of Kamwina Nsapu.
The African Union (AU), the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU) and the International Organisation of La Francophonie jointly condemned the recent killing.
They urged the security forces to “exercise restraint in the efforts to restore order in the Kasaïs, and encourage the continuation of the recently-initiated dialogue between the Government and the Kamuina Nsapu militia, in order to find a peaceful solution to the situation in the Kasaï.”
They also call for investigation into human rights violations to hold perpetrators accountable.
The Kamuina Nsapu militiamen from the Kasai-Central took the name of a traditional leader who died last year after an attack on his house.
The customary chief was very vocal against the authorities, and the militiamen who claim they are aligned to the leader, are spreading their insurgency throughout the Kasai region by attacking police officials and state property.
More than 400 people have been killed in the violence, according to the United Nations, and the government said last week that 67 police officers and many soldiers had died in the clashes.