Two Attacks Kill 14 In Eastern DR Congo

 

Two attacks in the strife-torn east of the Democratic Republic of Congo left 14 people dead including a government official and his family who were hacked to death, local sources said Wednesday.

Assailants thought to belong to the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) killed the official, his wife and five children in the town of Bukoma in North Kivu province on Tuesday, resident Eugene Rwanze told AFP.

They went on to kill a neighbour, Rwanze added.

Local official Modeste Kabori confirmed the attack, saying FDLR militants were “sowing terror” in the area.

The rebel group operates freely in the North Kivu and South Kivu provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo – where other militias and rebel groups also abound.

Further north, five police officers and a civilian were killed in an attack on a police station in northeastern Ituri province.

“Armed men attacked the Irumu police station firing rounds in all directions,” local civil society head Guly Gotabo told AFP.

An administrative official, Josue Kandole, said the assailants raided the police station and seized two weapons, killing five police officers and a civilian.

The regional army spokesman confirmed the attack.

The Congolese army announced the killing of FDLR chief Sylvestre Mudacumura in September.

Burundi Prosecutors Seek 15-Year Jail Term For Four Detained Journalists

Four journalists of the Burundi’s independent media Iwacu Press Group:(L to R) Christine Kamikazi, Agnes Ndirubusa, Egide Harerimana and Terence Mpozenzi leave at the High Court in Bubanza, western Burundi, on December 30, 2019 after attending a trial for complicity in endangering the internal security of the state. 
Tchandrou Nitanga / AFP

 

Burundi prosecutors Monday sought 15-year jail terms for four reporters and their driver who were detained covering an incursion of rebels from DR Congo and charged with endangering state security.

The journalists were working for Iwacu, one of Burundi’s few independent media outlets when they were arrested on October 22.

A witness in the northwestern province of Bubanza, where they were arrested, told AFP on condition of anonymity the long jail terms were sought after two hours of deliberations.

The source said the prosecution based the hefty sentencing demand largely on a WhatsApp exchange of messages between one of the reporters and a colleague based abroad in which the former wrote: “We are heading for Bubanza … to help the rebels.”

READ ALSO: Eighteen Killed In New Militia Attack In Eastern DR Congo

A further demand was for the detained to be denied their civic rights for 20 years.

Judgement was stayed for one month.

“We had the time to assure our clients’ defence. We hope they will be acquitted purely and simply,” defence counsel Clement Retirakiza, told reporters.

Police say at least 14 rebels from the Burundian RED-Tabara group, based across the border in eastern DR Congo, were killed in an attack the day the journalists were arrested.

The rebels say they killed a dozen security personnel.

The Reporters Without Borders NGO, which places Burundi a lowly 159th on its global list of press freedom, says those detained were simply doing their job while Human Rights Watch has called for their release.

Observers see the case against the four as a signal of toughness by the Burundi government just five months ahead of elections.

The country is currently mired in violent unrest sparked by President Pierre Nkurunziza announcing in April 2015 he was controversially standing for a third term. He won re-election in July.

AFP

18 Killed In New Militia Attack In Eastern DR Congo

 

 

Eighteen people in eastern DR Congo’s troubled region of Beni have been killed in a fresh attack by a notorious armed group, a local official said on Monday.

“There was an incursion in Apetina-Sana by the ADF last night,” Beni administrator Donat Kibwana told AFP, referring to the Allied Democratic Forces militia.

“(They) hacked 18 civilians to death.”

Apetina-Sana is 16 kilometres (10 miles) west of Oicha, the chief administrative town in the Beni region.

It is a point on the so-called Death Triangle, along with Mbau and Eringeti — the worst-hit area for attacks.

ADF fighters have killed more than 200 people since the army launched an offensive against the militia on October 30, according to a toll compiled by civil society groups.

The toll has sparked anger over the authorities’ response.

“The authorities were tipped off on Sunday evening about the presence of suspicious men west of Oicha,” said Teddy Kataliko, a civil society activist in Beni.

“We continue to ask the DRC armed forces to launch operations on the western side as well, to save civilians.”

There have also been demonstrations in the city of Beni, where local people accuse the UN peacekeeping force MONUSCO of failing to protect them.

The ADF began as an Islamist rebellion hostile to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

It fell back into eastern DRC in 1995 and appears to have halted raids inside Uganda. Its recruits today are people of various nationalities.

In a separate incident in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday, “armed bandits” attacked a base used by a Chinese-owned gold mine, killing four people, the military said.

The raid happened in the Irumu district in the northeastern province of Ituri, said Lieutenant Jules Ngongo, the army’s provincial spokesman.

Two soldiers, a policeman and a driver for the mine were killed, he said.

“The assailants have not been completely identified but they must be armed bandits who look for supplies during the year-end festivities,” Ngongo said.

Eighteen Killed In DR Congo Militia Attack

Eighteen people in eastern DR Congo’s troubled region of Beni have been killed in a fresh attack by a notorious armed group, a local official said on Monday.

“There was an incursion in Apetina-Sana by the ADF last night,” Beni administrator Donat Kibwana told AFP, referring to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia. “(They) hacked 18 civilians to death.”

 

20 Bodies Recovered From DR Congo River Days After Ferry Explosion

 

Twenty bodies have been recovered from a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo after a ferry blaze, local officials said Saturday.

The boat, which was transporting dozens of passengers as well as goods, caught fire overnight Monday in Tshimbinda, a village near Tshikapa, the capital of the central province of Kasai.

A report by a naval force in charge of waterway security in the DRC said a member of the crew lit a cigarette just as his comrades were filling up the boat with fuel.

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It said 17 bodies were found on Tuesday and another three on Friday along the Kasai River, a tributary of the Congo River.

Several other people suffered burns and a number remain missing, the report said, without giving the total number of people on board the boat at the time of the fire.

Lake and river transport is widely used in the vast country as the highway system is poor, but accidents are common, often caused by overloading and the unsafe state of vessels.

AFP

Ten Dead In Latest DR Congo Massacre

 

Ten people were killed overnight Sunday in eastern DR Congo, where massacres of civilians by a rebel group have sparked protests against UN peacekeepers, local officials said.

Ten civilians were killed in the village of Kamango, a day after 22 were murdered in Ntombi, Donat Kibuana, administrator for the territory of Beni, told AFP on Monday.

“The 22 who were killed in Ntombi had not even been buried when other civilians were killed, in Kamango,” he said.

“Ten bodies have been brought to the morgue so far.”

Pascal Saambili, a traditional leader in Watalinga district, blamed the latest attack on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a militia accused of hundreds of civilian deaths.

“The ADF burst into Kamango at nightfall. They killed civilians with machetes and guns. So far, we have recovered 10 bodies. There are also nine injured.”

“The people are in disarray.”

Faustin Basweki, who heads an association for young people in Kamango, said he had witnessed the massacre.

“When troops arrived, the terrorists gave the order to pull out and leave Kamango, speaking in Kiganda,” a language spoken in nearby Uganda, whose border lies 15 kilometres (eight miles) away, he said.

The ADF — a militia whose historical roots lie in Uganda and jihadism — has been active in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since the Congo Wars of the 1990s.

The group has killed more than 1,000 civilians since October 2014, according to the not-for-profit Congo Research Group (CRG).

DRC forces launched operations against the ADF in the eastern region at the end of October.

In response the ADF has killed scores of civilians in an apparent bid to discourage the public from helping the military.

The massacres have unleashed a wave of anger, especially in the city of Beni, where local people have accused the large UN force in DRC of failing to protect them.

The UN force has pointed out that anti-ADF operations were launched by government forces, and has insisted it is trying to find a solution to keep the population safe.

AFP

24 Killed In DR Congo Gold Mine Collapse

 

Twenty-four people were killed when a landslide engulfed a gold mine in DR Congo’s eastern Ituri province after days of torrential rain battered the region, an official said Sunday.

“Our teams on the ground .. have pulled out 24 bodies and saved two people,” provincial minister of mining Dieudonne Apasa told AFP. As rescuer workers were still searching, the toll could rise, he said.

“The incident happened yesterday between 5:30 pm (1530 GMT) and 6:00 pm. They were taken by surprise by a landslide, which engulfed them,” Apasa added.

“The almost daily rains that have been falling recently on the region are the main cause of this landslide.”

The gold panners were working at Ndiyo mine around 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Watsa, the main town in the Watsa territory of Upper-Uele province.

Further to the south, civil authorities said landslides caused by the incessant rain had killed 31 people between December 7 and 14 at Bukavu in eastern South Kivu province.

A similar disaster in a makeshift mine at Maniema further to the west killed 31 people in October, and landslides caused by heavy rains were blamed for at least 41 deaths in the capital Kinshasa on November 26.

Accidents in DR Congo’s makeshift mines are a common occurrence, and are often deadly. Because many such mines are in remote areas, however, the accidents are under-reported.

The miners sell what they find to local traders, who sell it on to large foreign companies.

12 Killed In Multiple DR Congo Militia Attacks

 

A dozen people have died in two attacks in Ituri, a province in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo hit by chronic unrest, the army, and local observers said Friday.

The attacks were attributed to the Codeco militia that has also been accused of a civilian massacre in June.

An army spokesman, lieutenant Jules Ngongo, told AFP that the three latest deaths occurred “during an attack by militia fighters very early on Friday.”

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Local radio director Daniel Tibasima said he had seen the bodies of “a pastor, an intelligence agent, and a woman,” and added that a well-known local shopkeeper had also been kidnapped.

Meanwhile, another attack on Wednesday night on the shore of Lake Albert left “nine dead, including four-woman, a young girl and four men,” Tibasima added.

A diplomatic source confirmed the toll, and an army spokesman acknowledged clashes with the attackers, adding that the situation was “under control.”

Authorities and communities have been reluctant to talk about a revival of communal conflict between Lendu farmers and Hema breeders that killed tens of thousands of people between 1999 and 2003 in Ituri.

The province has also been hit by an Ebola epidemic that has killed more than 2,000 people since mid-2018.

AFP

DRC Records 20 Ebola Cases In Three Days

 

Twenty cases of Ebola have been recorded in three days in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where deadly violence is hampering efforts to end the 16-month-old epidemic, the authorities said on Thursday.

Ten cases were notified on Wednesday alone in Mabalako in North Kivu province, after six on Tuesday, according to the Multisectoral Committee for Epidemic Response (CMRE).

Three out of the six are practitioners of traditional medicine, it said.

More than 2,200 people have died since the epidemic was declared on August 1, 2018.

As of November 22, the rate of new cases had fallen to 10 per week.

CMRE said “security reasons” — attacks on Ebola health workers and sites by armed groups and angry youths — had “paralysed” work in the key zones of Beni, Biakato and Mangina.

The attacks led to a pullout of locally-employed Ebola workers in Biakato by the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) and Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

AFP

Policewoman Arrested For Killing Protester

 

A policewoman in the Democratic Republic of Congo was arrested Tuesday after allegedly shooting a young protester dead at close range in the eastern city of Goma, police said.

The teenaged boy was killed as angry residents staged protests after police prevented them from pursuing thieves who were preying on northern neighbourhoods in the city, a local official added.

“I have just arrested the officer who shot the youth at pointblank range. It is a policewoman. We have placed her in the hands of the appropriate authorities,” police chief Jean-Baptiste Bukili told an AFP correspondent.

“A young man around 14 years old was killed,” added Gervais Katembo, the local official.

He said that residents had torched a police station to protest insecurity in northern Goma neighbourhoods.

“Bandits were active overnight towards Kisoko and stole things from the population. When people wanted to chase the bandits, police stopped them, which is what infuriated the inhabitants,” Katembo said.

Pictures posted on Twitter showed a youth lying on his back wearing a bloody T-shirt, and a policewoman who had been arrested by a man wearing an army uniform.

Youth minister Billy Kambale also used Twitter to condemn “repeated violence by police against demonstrators”.

“No situation justifies a law officer firing at a student. The judicial system must take up the case of an officer who fired pointblank at a student in Goma,” Kambale said.

Tension remained high in Goma around midday, with main streets in several districts barricaded and business activity brought to a halt.

AFP

27 Murdered Victims Buried In DR Congo

People gather in Oicha, on November 29, 2019, as 27 victims of the latest massacre in the country’s volatile east were being buried with hundreds paying homage while lashing out at security forces for failing to stop attacks. 
Bienvenu-Marie BAKUMANYA / AFP

 

The Democratic Republic of Congo town of Oicha on Friday buried 27 victims of the latest massacre in the country’s volatile east, with hundreds paying homage while lashing out at security forces for failing to stop attacks.

Mourners gathered in silence around the tiny morgue of Oicha, located near the Ugandan border and east of the DRC town of Beni, the scene of repeated deadly strikes.

Workers wore face masks as they wrapped the decomposing corpses in shrouds. They were barefoot in line with local tradition out of respect for the deceased.

Wooden crosses marked the graves and many wept as the bodies were lowered.

During the mass funerals, gunfire broke out from the nearby bush but it was unclear who was firing.

“My neighbour, who was my son’s mother-in-law, had her throat slit and was then cut up,” said Kahindo Kamabu, a woman in her fifties.

“I am very sad but I’m not crying any more as I want to tell these murderers that we are strong and dignified despite our pain.”

READ ALSO: Police Shoot Man On London Bridge After Attack

Janvier Kasahirio, the head of a local youth association, said: “We found the remains of our brothers in pieces,” adding that some of the victims had been burnt.

He said they found the bodies in the bush.

The victims were hacked to death with machetes on Wednesday, taking to 107 the number of people killed in and around Beni since November 5.

The vast majority of the killings have been carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a militia that has plagued the Democratic Republic of Congo’s east since the 1990s.

‘Chopped Up Like Meat’

“I recognised my aunt from her clothes,” said Rosette Kashauri.

“Her face was barely recognisable. Her body was chopped up like the meat one sells in the market. I am sad and angry,” she said.

The massacres have sparked protests against the local United Nations peacekeeping mission, known by its French acronym MONUSCO.

“It’s unthinkable that people kill the local population and that the young go to look for bodies while soldiers watch them,” said Moise Kakule.

On Friday, a DR Congo soldier was killed by civilians who mistook him for an ADF fighter, the army and a local official said.

The soldier opened fire as he saw local youth approaching him, before running out of ammunition, local leader Donat Kibwana added.

A general shutdown was observed in Oicha as well as in Goma, the main city in DRC’s east, in solidarity with the beleaguered residents of Beni and Oicha.

On Friday, the ADF released 12 hostages, including two women and some children, local residents said.

They said the released hostages carried back pamphlets exhorting locals to embrace Islam and stop cooperating with security forces.

Some said they had paid ransom to the ADF to secure the release of relatives.

“My four children were kidnapped by the ADF,” said 35-year-old Reagan Kimbu. “They were released against a payment of $4,500 (4,000 euros).”

The UN refugee agency meanwhile said there was an exodus of locals from Oicha to Beni, about 30 kilometres (20 miles) away.

“Alarming reports from the region suggest people being trapped and under threat from the armed groups, with daily reports of loss of life,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said on Friday.

“Abductions and attacks on schools, health centres and indigenous communities are also on the rise,” it said.

“Information is difficult to verify, as the movement of humanitarian workers is restricted due to insecurity around the city and in the territory of Beni, as a result of violence.”

AFP

Three Ebola Workers Killed In Eastern DR Congo

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 1, 2018 health workers operate within an Ebola safety zone in the Health Center in Iyonda, near Mbandaka. PHOTO: AFP

 

Three Ebola workers in eastern DR Congo have been killed, adding to the toll of people who have died fighting the nearly 16-month-old epidemic, a local UN source said Thursday.

A person working for the Congolese health ministry and two drivers were killed overnight Wednesday when an armed group attacked a complex in Biakato, Ituri province, where Ebola workers lived, the source said.

One person is reported missing and five others wounded, the source said.

Another attack, in Mangina, which is also in Ituri province, was repelled.

“Attacks by armed groups in Biakato Mines and Mangina in #DRC have resulted in deaths and injuries amongst #Ebola responders,” World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a tweet.

“We are heartbroken that our worst fears have been realised. Our focus is caring for the wounded and ensuring staff at other locations are safe.”

An outbreak of the much-feared haemorrhagic virus has killed 2,199 in North and South Kivu and Ituri provinces since August 1, 2018, according to the latest official figures.

It is the Democratic Republic of Congo’s 10th Ebola epidemic and the second deadliest on record after an outbreak that struck West Africa in 2014-16, claiming more than 11,300 lives.

Insecurity has complicated the epidemic from the outset, compounding resistance within communities to preventative measures, care facilities and safe burials.

On November 4, the authorities said more than 300 attacks on Ebola health workers had been recorded since the start of the year, leaving six dead and 70 wounded, some of them patients.

Vast tracts of eastern DRC are in the grip of armed groups, especially a shadowy militia called the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

The armed forces launched an offensive in the region on October 30, prompting a wave of massacres of civilians by suspected ADF men.

Ninety-nine people have been killed by armed groups in the Beni area alone since November 5, according to the not-for-profit Congo Research Group (CRG).

The bloodshed has sparked a wave of anger at the authorities and the UN mission in the DRC, MONUSCO. Seven people have died in protests since Saturday.

AFP