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New attack rocks DRC's Ituri province ahead of key voter census

New attack rocks DRC's Ituri province ahead of key voter census
Congolese Defense Forces soldiers remove the bodies of victims of an attack near the town...   -  
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Al-hadji Kudra Maliro/Copyright 2021 The AP. All rights reserved.

Democratic Republic Of Congo

The redoubled violence against civilians left five new dead on Wednesday in Ituri, fueling concern over the conduct of voter registration operations which are due to begin Thursday in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

These operations of "enrollment" of voters, with a view to the presidential election in December, began at the end of December in the western part of the country than at the end of January in the center and the southeast.

From Thursday, they will concern seven provinces in the east and north-east, including the most affected by the violence of armed groups that have been scouring these regions for several decades.

In Ituri, community militias such as Codeco are rampant in particular, accused by the UN of having killed more than twenty civilians on Sunday, the latest killing of villagers and displaced persons.

The south of Ituri, as well as the north of the neighboring province of North Kivu, is also the victim of repeated attacks attributed to the ADF ( Allied Democratic Forces ), an armed group of Ugandan origin presented by the jihadist group Islamic State like its branch in Central Africa.

Since the end of last year, dozens of deaths have been counted almost every week in Ituri.

"There was an incursion (on Wednesday) of the ADF rebels in the locality of Bukima. They killed five people - a man, three women, and a child", indicated Faustin Brazza, actor of the civil society of the "chieftaincy" ( group of villages) of Banyali Tchabi.

This toll of five dead, to which must be added two wounded, was confirmed by the head of this entity, Babanilau Tchabi, deploring that his chiefdom has been "completely emptied" of its population by the repeated attacks in the region.

"We hope that the presence" of the Congolese and Ugandan soldiers, who are carrying out joint operations against the ADF, "will be able to reassure the civilians for the registration of the voters", declared the chief Tchabi, while saying however "really in the worry".

Despite these military operations, "the rebels manage to kill the population", lamented Faustin Brazza. "How are people going to get their (voter's) cards in this recurring insecurity?", he wondered.

The province of North Kivu is also confronted with the M23 rebellion, which has seized large swaths of territory and caused a massive displacement of populations, driven from their villages by the fighting.

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