22 civilians killed DRC massacre

AFRICA
22 civilians killed DRC massacre

 

 

GOMA – At least 22 civilians were killed
in a massacre in Democratic Republic
of Congo’s restive North Kivu province,
officials said Sunday, the latest in a
two-year wave of violence plaguing the
region.
The bloodshed occurred in Eringeti, a
town 55 kilometres north of the
regional hub Beni, a city hit by a series
of attacks that have claimed more than
700 civilian lives according to regional
official Amisi Kalonda, who blamed the
latest strike on Ugandan rebels.
Kalonda said members of the Allied
Democratic Forces (ADF), a group of
rebels dominated by puritanical
Ugandan Muslims and entrenched in
the region for about two decades,
stormed the town on Saturday
afternoon.
“The ADF has yet again plunged the
people of Eringeti and its surrounding
areas into mourning,” he told AFP,
speaking from the North Kivu capital
Goma.
“Yesterday, they killed 10 civilians.
Twelve other bodies were found
(Sunday) in the surrounding villages.”
“The modus operandi is always the
same,” he said, adding that the victims
were either killed with knives or
machetes.
For the past two years the region
around Beni has been afflicted by
massacres that have killed hundreds
of civilians, most of whom were
hacked to death.
Congolese officials have blamed the
attacks on the ADF but several expert
reports have suggested that other
groups, including elements within the
Congolese army, took part in some
killings.
Congolese army spokesman Mak
Hazukay confirmed the attack, saying
military forces had “killed four ADF
rebels” but added that “the toll on the
civilian side is very heavy”.
Teddy Kataliki, the head of a prominent
local civic group, also spoke of at least
22 victims.
But a Catholic priest in the area said
there had been 27 deaths and the toll
could rise “if bodies are found in the
forest” bordering the town.
‘Toll likely to rise’
The priest said the Christmas midnight
mass was held in the afternoon before
nightfall for security reasons.
“Yesterday the bodies of 10 civilians
were found and today another 12,”
Kataliki said, adding that this was a
provisional toll.
“We don’t understand this situation
which continues to bereave the region
of Beni.”
Kataliki said another such attack was
underway on Sunday evening in the
town of Oicha, further south.
An army spokesman said troops were
engaged in an operation in the area but
refused to provide further details.
The priest however said, when
contacted late Sunday, that the army
“has pushed back the attackers”.
When the Beni massacres kicked off in
October 2014, the ADF was quickly
branded the culprit by both DR Congo
authorities and MONUSCO, the UN
mission in DR Congo.
More than two years on, Congolese
authorities and the UN have been
unable to protect civilians and the ADF
remains the only official explanation —
with the government insisting on a
jihadist link to the killings.
It comes as relations with the
international community have soured
over President Joseph Kabila’s refusal
to step down despite his term ending
on December 20.web_photo_machetes

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