Suspected members of an Islamist militia killed 16 people as they were returning from a weekly market in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), local and medical sources said Friday.
The dead from the ambush on Thursday evening included six women and a child, all of whom were shot, Jerome Munyambethe, head of the hospital in the town of Oicha, told AFP.
“We have seven bodies in the hospital morgue,” town mayor Nicolas Kikuku said.
He said another nine wounded were being treated at the hospital.
The attack occurred on a highway between the towns of Maimoya and Chani-chani, 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the city of Beni in North Kivu province.
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The Oicha region is a hotbed of attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the deadliest of scores of armed militias roaming the mineral-rich eastern DRC.
In March, the United States said the ADF — historically a Ugandan Islamist group that has holed up in the region since 1995 — was linked to the Islamic State jihadist group.
North Kivu and the neighbouring province of Ituri have been placed under a so-called state of siege since May 6 to fight various armed groups which terrorise civilians.
President Felix Tshisekedi replaced senior civilian officials there with army and police officers.
But Lewis Saliboko, a civil society official in Oicha, complained that the new measures had failed to curb the attacks.
“What is the point of this state of siege when we continue to have massacres?” he said. “(…) There are no operations, there are no additional forces.”