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DR Congo’s Yumbi massacre survivors seek justice

A member of the Congolese armed forces stands next to a burnt building in the western city of Yumbi, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on February 1, 2019.   -  
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ALEXIS HUGUET/AFP or licensors

Democratic Republic Of Congo

Thursday marked two years since a devastating attack on Yumbi, a town in western Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Hundreds were killed as fighting between two ethnic groups escalated.

People were shot, stabbed and even burned to death and hundreds of homes on the banks of the river Congo were destroyed.

Now the relatives of the 535 victims are seeking justice.

What happened?

Official events say the violence was sparked by the secret burial of a Banunu traditional chief in Yumbi.

The Batende, the majority group in the area, saw it as a provocation as they consider Yumbi their territory.

The tragic events unfolded just two weeks before the DRC's monumental election, which saw President Félix Tshisekedi elected.

Father Nestor Longota, a Catholic priest, told Human Rights Watch in late December 2018, he returned to Bongende, his home village in northwest Democratic Republic of Congo. “What I saw was unimaginable,” he said last week. “There were putrefied bodies, some were mutilated, others had been burned in houses, and houses were destroyed.”

“I feel that our government has abandoned us to our fate,” Father Longota said as the two-year anniversary approached. “A new massacre could take place if there is no justice.”


Investigations are still ongoing

Human Rights Watch said The Congolese authorities, who have failed to provide psychological support, should now ensure those who orchestrated and carried out the massacres are fairly prosecuted.

A judicial source told the NGO that the exhumation of graves is supposed to take place before any trial

It has been reported at least three suspected assailants put of dozens who were arrested and held in Kinshasa, have been released for reasons that remain unclear.

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