Democratic Republic Of Congo
More than 20 civilians were killed Sunday in new attacks by militiamen in Ituri, a gold-rich province in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, according to preliminary information gathered Monday by the UN and civil society.
Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said in New York that the Codeco militia had, according to these preliminary reports, "killed at least 20 civilians and burned several houses.
The same militiamen also "damaged medical facilities in a series of attacks on villages in Djugu territory," he added.
Codeco (Cooperative for the Development of Congo) is a militia of several thousand men who claim to protect the Lendu tribe from the Hema tribe and the national army in Ituri.
Dieudonné Lossa, Ituri's civil society coordinator, said there had been "a double attack by Codeco militiamen" on Sunday.
First in three villages in the territory, where they "killed nine civilians, set fire to 23 stores and looted 32 goats.
They then "made an incursion in the evening into Mongbwalu," where they killed 12 people, Lossa added.
The mayor of this rural commune, Jean-Pierre Bikilisense, confirmed to AFP that 12 people were killed by the militiamen, in addition to a civilian killed by other bandits during a robbery.
The spokesman for the UN Secretary General also mentioned attacks on two villages in another territory of the province attributed to the ADF (Allied Democratic Forces), a militia presented by the jihadist group Islamic State as its branch in Central Africa.
The attacks in Irumu territory reportedly left at least 12 people dead, a toll that local sources were unable to confirm Monday evening.
Since the end of last year, dozens of people have been killed almost every week in Ituri.
After a decade of lull, the deadly conflict in the province between Hema and Lendu resumed in late 2017, causing more than 1.5 million people to flee. In five years, several thousand civilians have been killed in attacks perpetrated mainly on ethnic grounds.
The ADF, an armed group of Ugandan origin, is active in southern Ituri and northern neighboring North Kivu province.
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