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DRC: 14 tribesmen killed by militia in west

DRC: 14 tribesmen killed by militia in west
Lieutenant Colonel Kebibi Mutware is escorted to his detention cell after a day...   -  
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Pete Muller/AP2011

Interethnic conflicts

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has killed 14 people, including two traditional chiefs, since Friday by alleged militiamen from a rival tribe, an administrative official said on Monday.

The chief of the village of Kimpasi, in the Kisia-Ngasi grouping, was killed in his residence by assailants from Kwamouth," Amedeo Bangambuma, administrator of the Bagata territory in Kwilu province, told AFP on Monday.

In this grouping (group of villages) of Kisia-Ngasi, "twelve villagers were killed in a farm on Friday by assailants (...). The chief of the grouping who came to inquire about the situation was also killed," he added, indicating that all the victims were members of the Teke community and were killed with machetes.

The Kisia-Ngasi grouping is in a remote area. There are no security forces on site and the nearest police station is about 100 km away, Mr Bangambuma said.

He said the perpetrators of the killings were militiamen from "Kwamouth territory, on the other side of the river, who come to attack Teke people in Bagata territory" in neighbouring Kwilu province.

The Kwamouth territory is located in the province of Maï-Ndombe, which has been plagued by communal violence that started last June over a land dispute between the Teke, who consider themselves to be the originators and owners of villages along the Congo River for a distance of about 200 kilometres, and the Yaka, who came to settle after them.

The violence, which later spread to Kwilu province, left at least 180 people dead last year, according to the Kinshasa government. The United Nations has put the number of displaced people driven from their villages by the conflict at tens of thousands, some of whom have taken refuge in neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville.

After a lull, violence resumed earlier this month when at least 15 people were killed in an attack on two villages by armed men. Hundreds of Teke have fled their villages and abandoned their fields, according to reports.

"The Teke are living in a climate of great panic, they are afraid of being killed at any moment," said administrator Bangambuma.