Seven Die In DR Congo Goldmine Collapse

A DR Congo flag.

 

Seven miners have died and five are missing after a makeshift goldmine collapsed in eastern DR Congo’s South Kivu province after heavy rain, local sources said Wednesday.

The accident occurred Monday near Shabunda, said Cyrille Lualuba Bendera, who represents local NGOs.

He said the torrential rains sparked the collapse, “taking the artisanal diggers by surprise while they were hard at work in a shaft at least six metres (20 feet) deep.”

Of 13 people who were in the shaft, only one was found alive, but was “seriously injured” and taken to hospital, he said.

The seven dead miners were buried Monday at the site, while a search for the five missing was under way, he added.

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South Kivu authorities said they were aware of the accident but declined to comment.

Artisanal miners in the vast central African country often work in difficult conditions, ignoring safety norms.

They sell gold or copper to brokers who sell the metals on to large foreign businesses.

Accidents are common and often quite deadly, but go largely unreported because of the remote areas where the activity takes place.

AFP

Rebels Kill Eight Villagers In DR Congo

Image of DR Congo

 

Rebels went on a rampage in villages around the northeastern DR Congo city of Beni at the weekend, killing at least eight people and abducting many more, local officials said.

The first attacks occurred overnight Friday in the villages of Mbingi and Mapasana.

“There we had four people killed, seven motorbikes and several houses torched, and the kidnapping of several people,” said Kinos Katuo, the head of a civil society body.

He said the victims were shot dead or hacked to death.

Sunday morning the rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) attacked the nearby village of Mangazi, he said, noting that a rebel was killed as the army repelled the assault.

The rebels moved on to the villages of Matekelambi and Mabuo, where the death toll stands at four, with “many others missing,” Katuo said.

No military source was available Sunday to confirm his account.

Nicolas Kikuku, mayor of the nearest city, Oicha, said “It’s true that the enemy is present in this area.”

Of the more than 100 armed groups active in eastern DRC, the ADF is said to be the most deadly.

The so-called Islamic State group (IS) has designated the ADF its Central Africa Province, or ISCAP.

The United States officially linked the ADF to IS in March 2021.

The government in Kinshasa declared a state of siege in North Kivu and neighbouring Ituri in May in an effort to stop the activities of armed groups, including the ADF.

Military and police officers have replaced civilian authorities as heads of these provinces.

AFP

51 Dead, Scores Missing As Makeshift Vessel Sinks In DR Congo

A file photo of a DR Congo flag.

 

More than 100 people are believed dead or missing in the sinking of a makeshift vessel on the Congo river, provincial authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo said Saturday.

Fifty-one bodies had been recovered by late Friday from the sinking during the night of Monday to Tuesday, and another 69 are believed to be missing, Nestor Magbado, a spokesman for the governor of the northwestern province of Mongala, told AFP.

He said there were 39 survivors.

With no manifest of the passengers on board, the number missing is an estimate based on the capacity of the boat, he said.

The vessel was actually nine traditional wooden canoes, known as pirogues, all tied together, Magbado said.

He added that the accident may have been caused by “overcrowding aggravated by bad weather” during the night.

The scale of the accident was not clear until it was reported by media late on Friday, and confirmed on Saturday by provincial authorities.

Magbado said the Mongala authorities had informed Kinshasa of the sinking just after it occurred but had waited for more information about the number of casualties.

Search and rescue operations are continuing, but hopes are fading of finding more survivors, he said.

Provincial authorities have declared three days of mourning from Monday.

DR Congo Records New Ebola Case Five Months After Last Outbreak

In this file photo taken on June 13, 2017, a health worker walks at an Ebola quarantine unit in Muma, after a case of Ebola was confirmed in the village in the Democratic Republic of Congo. JOHN WESSELS / AFP

 

One Ebola case has been recorded in the Democratic Republic of Congo, five months after the latest epidemic of the disease in the country was declared over, the government said on Friday.

“The case concerns a three-year-old boy who was hospitalised and died on October 6,” the health ministry said in a statement, adding that the case was in Beni, in North Kivu province.

A sample taken from the child was sent to Goma, the provincial capital, and was found to be positive.

Teams on the ground are working to trace and monitor around 100 contacts, as well as decontaminate health facilities, the ministry said.

READ ALSO: 51 Dead, Scores Missing As Makeshift Vessel Sinks In DR Congo

“Thanks to the experience gained in the management of the Ebola virus disease during previous epidemics, we are confident that the response teams… will manage to control this epidemic as soon as possible,” the statement said.

In early May, the DRC declared the end of its 12th Ebola outbreak, during which 12 cases were reported, with six deaths and hundreds of people vaccinated.

The disease had reappeared in February in an area of North Kivu that between August 2018 and June 2020 experienced the largest outbreak of Ebola in the history of the DRC — with 3,470 infections and 2,287 deaths.

Ebola is a viral haemorrhagic fever that was first identified in central Africa in 1976. The disease was named after a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo, then known as Zaire.

Human transmission is through body fluids, with the main symptoms being fever, vomiting, bleeding, and diarrhoea.

12 Dead After Mining Pollution In DR Congo River

DR Congo flag.

 

Twelve people have died and thousands have fallen ill after a river in southern DR Congo was polluted by toxic waste from a diamond mine, the government said.

Pollution of the Kasai River came to light in July, when local residents said its waters had turned red and dead fish were seen floating at the city of Tshikapa, near the Angolan-owned mine.

In addition to 12 fatalities, whose cause of death is unknown, 4,502 cases of diarrhoea and skin-related illness have been recorded, Environment Minister Eve Bazaiba said late Thursday.

“This catastrophe was caused by an Angolan mining company, which has acknowledged the facts,” she said, reporting on the findings of an expert bilateral commission of inquiry.

In July, Bazaiba linked the pollution to a “spill of toxic substances by an Angolan factory specialising in industrial diamond mining”.

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Local officials also saw dead hippos in the Kasai, a major tributary to the Congo, the second longest African river after the Nile.

Four out of the five administrative territories in Kasai province have been affected by the disaster, totalling 968,000 people, the probe found.

The provincial authorities banned consumption of the river water, but it was too late to avoid some people falling sick.

The government said 40 tonnes (88,000 pounds) of medication to the area and the national water company is taking steps to increase supplies to those affected.

“Compensation should be paid to those who are victims, on the basis of the polluter-pays principle,” the government said.

AFP

Policeman Shoots Student For Not Wearing Mask In DR Congo

A photo collage of a gun and facemask.

 

A Democratic Republic of Congo policeman has shot a student who was not wearing a mask while filming on the streets of the capital, witnesses said on Sunday.

“Our friend Honore Shama, a student in the faculty of arts at the University of Kinshasa, was filming a video as part of his acting practical work requirement,” Patient Odia, a friend who was present at the confrontation, told AFP.

“A policeman told him to wear a mask during the filming.”

“Despite his (Shama’s) explanations and after having showed him a mask, the policeman, who was expecting to be offered money, became infuriated, accused him of resisting and shot him at point-blank range.”

Other witnesses told a similar story to the popular Top Congo radio as well as several online news sites.

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The policeman responsible has fled and the city’s police are searching for him, the head of Kinshasa police, General Sylvano Kasongo, told AFP.

“Police have detained two police officers, present during the incident provoked by their irresponsible colleague… as well as the head” of a local police station, he said.

“The search continues to find the fugitive policeman,” Kasongo said.

Wearing a mask is obligatory in DR Congo, with transgressors fined 10,000 Congolese frances (five dollars, four euros).

In Kinshasa, police are regularly accused of harassment and of pocketing the mask fines they collect.

DR Congo has registered 47,786 Covid-19 cases and 1,021 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Vaccinations have been halted in the country since July 10, because the AstraZeneca vaccines in stock passed their expiration date.

AFP

16 Civilians Killed In Suspected Militia Attack In DR Congo

DR Congo map

 

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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In this file photo taken on February 18, 2020 An Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) soldier takes part in a foot patrol in the village of Manzalaho near Beni, 2020, following an attack allegedly perpetrated by members of the rebel group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). (Photo by Alexis Huguet / AFP)

 

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.”

AFP

UNESCO Removes DR Congo Park From Endangered List

 

The Democratic Republic of Congo scored a key heritage victory on Monday as UNESCO removed one of its nature reserves from a list of threatened sites, the UN agency said.

UNESCO praised the country’s conservation efforts and the government’s commitment to ban prospecting for oil in Salonga, the vast central African country’s largest public park.

The World Heritage Committee cited “improvements towards its conservation state” in its decision, according to a statement Monday.

“Regular monitoring of the wild fauna shows that the bonobo (ape) populations remain stable within the territory despite past pressure, and that the forest elephant population is starting to come back,” the statement said.

The Congolese environment ministry welcomed the move.

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It would be “an opportunity to rethink the management of the peatland with a view to quantifying its capacity to absorb carbon” emissions, it told AFP in a statement.

Salonga is Africa’s largest protected rainforest and home to 40 percent of the Earth’s bonobo apes, along with several other endangered species.

It was created in 1970 by then dictator Mobutu Sese Seko and had been on the endangered list since 1984.

The park is also home to slender-snouted crocodiles and Congo peacocks.

AFP

Court Releases Former DR Congo PM From Brief House Arrest

Image of DR Congo

 

DR Congo’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday reversed its decision to place former prime minister Augustin Matata Ponyo under house arrest, his lawyer said.

The former prime minister “is no longer under house arrest… He returned to his home without being accompanied by police,” the lawyer Laurent Onyemba told AFP.

The court’s ruling came just the day after it had imposed the house arrest on Matata pending an investigation into embezzlement charges.

A magistrate, speaking anonymously, told AFP that Matata was not a flight risk and would “now respond to invitations from the prosecution as a free man”.

In May prosecutors asked parliament to lift the immunity granted to Matata in his new role as a senator so that he could face a probe over alleged corruption.

At the time the senate voted against lifting immunity, saying that the Constitutional Court which made the request was not empowered to try a parliamentarian.

For criminal proceedings in DR Congo, senators come under the jurisdiction of the Court of Cassation.

But on July 5, six members of the Senate office agreed to a demand by the prosecutor of the Constitutional Court to remove Matata’s parliamentary immunity.

Onyemba had responded to the original court decision to place his client under house arrest by saying it was a political decision.

The lawyer said the court was accusing the former PM of having ordered the payment of more than $110 million (93 million euros) to fictitious creditors and alleged victims of “Zaireanisation.”

Launched in the 1970s by then-dictator Mobutu Sese Seka, Zaireanisation entailed expropriating the assets of foreign entrepreneurs but without compensation.

The allegations are “false down the line,” Onyemba said.

Matata was minister of finance and then prime minister in the government of Joseph Kabila from 2010 until 2016.

In November, the IGF state spending watchdog reported that the equivalent of $205 million (173 million euros) had been plundered out of $285 million disbursed for a pilot agro-industrial scheme in Bukangalonzo, 250 kilometres (155 miles) southeast of the capital.

The IGF implicated Matata in its report, saying he was the “intellectual author” of the crime.

He denied the accusations and lodged a complaint against the IGF’s head and three other financial investigators over “slanderous” claims.

-AFP

At Least 20 Killed In DR Congo Clash

In this file photo taken on February 18, 2020 An Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) soldier takes part in a foot patrol in the village of Manzalaho near Beni, following an attack allegedly perpetrated by members of the rebel group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
File photo of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) troops taking part in a foot patrol in the village of Manzalaho near Beni, following an attack allegedly perpetrated by members of the rebel group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

 

At least 20 people have been killed in fighting between armed groups and troops in Democratic Republic of Congo troops eastern highlands, a military source said. 

In fighting on Saturday and Sunday between DR Congo troops and the Makanika-Twigwaneho-Ngumino coalition of armed groups, “the provisional toll is five soldiers killed, and on the enemy’s side there are 15 dead”, said Captain Dieudonne Kasereka, an army spokesman in eastern South Kivu region.

“Loyalists recaptured their positions in the center of Minembwe and its surroundings at around 10 am on Sunday.

Because of these clashes, “the population has dispersed in all directions”, he said, adding that people should now return as the “situation is under (the)  control” of the army.

“Ngomino elements were also ambushed in Lwiko (2 km from Minembwe),” a UN source told AFP, without confirming the figure of 15 assailants killed as given by the army.

The Hauts Plateaux region is the scene of a conflict between armed groups formed on a communal basis, notably Tutsi Congolese with distant Rwandan origins, the Banyamulenge, and other communities.

On Saturday, from 5:00 am to 5:00 pm (0300 to 1500 GMT), loud bangs were reported in the city of Minembwe and its surroundings, the attackers having approached “up to one km from the headquarters of the army before being repulsed”, according to the army.

“A UN source told AFP that senior FARDC officers had spent the night (Saturday to Sunday) in the base of the UN Mission in the DRC (Monusco).

On Sunday morning “fighting was still going on”, according to a FARDC officer who was answering a question from AFP while directing operations at the front.

The coalition “Twigwaneho” (self-defence) and “Ngumino” (We Stay Here in Kinyamulenge) is composed of members of the Banyamulenge community.

These armed groups were joined by Colonel Michel Rukundo Makanika who deserted the army in early 2020 with a group of soldiers.

22 Die In Eastern DR Congo Violence

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa

 

At least 14 civilians have been killed in fresh violence in northeast Democratic Republic of Congo and eight others suspected of collaborating with a notorious armed group have been lynched, sources said on Monday.

The Kivu Security Tracker (KST), an NGO which monitors violence in eastern DRC Congo, said at least 14 people were killed last Friday in three locations in Djugu territory, Ituri province, by assailants from a group called CODECO-URDPC.

Desire Malodra, a local civil society leader, said 15 people in the Djugu area died on Friday and Saturday in clashes between the DRC army and CODECO militiamen.

CODECO — for Cooperative for the Development of the Congo — is an armed political-religious sect that claims to defend the Lendu ethnic group.

It is one of more 120 armed groups that roam eastern DRC, many of them a legacy of bloody wars more than a quarter of a century ago.

The Lendu, mainly farmers, have been in historic conflict with the Hema community who are predominantly herders.

Tens of thousands of people on both sides died in a savage war between 1999 and 2003.

Violence returned in December 2017. CODECO has since been linked to more than 1,000 deaths.

A little further south, in Irumu territory, the army said eight civilians were “publicly lynched” on Thursday in Komanda, a town 75 kilometres (45 miles) south of the Ituri capital Bunia.

“We condemn (this) mob justice,” Lieutenant Jules Ngongo, the army spokesman in Ituri, told AFP.

The eight were from the Banyabwisha community, an ethnic group of Congolese Hutus with Rwandan roots.

In early June, the government accused members of the Banyabwisha community of “complicity” with the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a notorious Islamist armed group, following the massacre of some 50 civilians in Irumu territory.

The army urged the population not to “take justice into their own hands” but instead to inform on accomplices of armed groups so that the security forces could deal with them.

Gold-rich Ituri and neighbouring North Kivu province have been placed under a “state of siege” by President Felix Tshisekedi, who has vowed to clamp down on the violence.

AFP

DR Congo City Closes Schools, Markets After Weekend Bombs

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa

 

The eastern DR Congo city of Beni on Monday closed its schools, markets and churches for 48 hours after three bomb attacks over the weekend sparked fears of further violence.

The attacks included the first targeting a Catholic Church building and the first suicide bombing in the region, which has declared a “state of siege” after a string of massacres carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia.

Beni Mayor Narcisse Muteba announced a curfew late Sunday, saying that “everyone should go inside because we have information that something else is being planned”.

On Monday Muteba ordered all schools, churches and markets closed for two days.

“I don’t want to see any crowds, but we are calling on everyone to remain calm,” he said in a statement.

Muteba, a police colonel who replaced the city’s civilian leader a few weeks ago, also asked that anyone wanting to enter Beni carry their identity papers.

The measures come after a makeshift bomb went off in a Catholic church in Beni on Sunday morning, injuring two women, followed just hours later by a suicide bombing outside a bar.

The day before, a bomb exploded next to a petrol station on the outskirts of Beni without causing any damage.

The army said that the suicide bomber was “a Ugandan citizen who went by the name Ngudi Abdallah, and was very active alongside his leader, the sinister Amigo,” an ADF commander.

The army asked Beni residents to “report any suspicious movement, to dissociate themselves from the armed groups and to rally behind the armed forces”.

– ‘Boom’ –

The attack at the church in predominantly Catholic Beni took place just an hour before a children’s confirmation ceremony was due to be held.

“I had just entered the church, I hadn’t even managed to sit down, I heard ‘boom’… Blood started flowing from my mouth,” one of the women wounded in the blast, Antoinette Kavira, told AFP from her hospital bed.

Beni is in the North Kivu province, one of two regions that President Felix Tshisekedi placed under a “state of siege” on May 6 in a bid to clamp down on militia violence.

The ADF is the deadliest of an estimated 122 armed militias that roam the mineral-rich east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, many of them a legacy of two regional wars that ran from 1996 to 2003.

Historically a Ugandan Islamist group, it has holed up in eastern DRC since 1995.

The ADF is accused of having killed 6,000 people since 2013, according to the Catholic episcopate.

And the Kivu Security Tracker monitor says it has killed more than 1,200 civilians in the Beni area alone since 2017.

In March, the United States said the ADF was linked to the Islamic State group.

AFP