Twelve More Bodies Found After DR Congo Militia Massacre

 

Another 12 bodies have been discovered in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo region of Beni, two days after a militia attack left eight people dead and around 20 missing, police said on Sunday.

On Friday fighters from the Allied Democratic Forces militia slit the throats of eight people in Mangina commune, prompting hundreds of villagers to flee the area.

The attack was the latest massacre blamed on the ADF which has carried out reprisal attacks on civilians in response to a military crackdown on their fighters since October.

Eastern DR Congo has been wracked by militia violence for years, a legacy of its two Congo wars in the 1990s, but the ADF has been blamed for most of the recent attacks.

“The twelve bodies found today were victims of Friday’s ADF attack,” local Mangina police chief Major Losendjola Morisho told AFP.

He said the army were currently chasing militia fighters om Makiki village, two kilometres (1.2 miles) east of Mangina.

The Beni region is the epicentre of the ADF campaign where activists say more than 300 people have been killed since October when the army began its offensive.

On January 28, 36 civilians were killed in an attack in Oicha, also in Beni, part of the ADF’s revenge attacks on civilians.

The ADF, blamed for the deaths of more than 1,000 civilians in Beni since October 2014, began as an Islamist-rooted rebel group in Uganda that opposed President Yoweri Museveni.

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

24 Killed In Fresh DR Congo Attack

United Nations (UN) South African peacekeepers patrol a street in Oicha where an attack took place in a nearby village the day before, in Oicha, on January 29, 2020.  ALEXIS HUGUET / AFP

 

Up to 24 people were killed on Thursday in a fresh attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s east attributed to the Allied Democratic Forces militia, taking the number of civilians killed this week to over 60, officials and a monitor said.

Twenty-four bodies were found at four sites near Oicha in the volatile Beni region, the area’s top administrator Donat Kibwana said.

The Kivu Security Tracker, a joint project of the Congo Research Group and Human Rights Watch put the toll at 19.

DR Congo troops have been carrying out a military operation on the ADF, which originated in Uganda but now active in DRC’s east — long plagued by various militias.

Militiamen have responded with a series of massacres against civilians with gruesome attacks involving machetes.

The ADF, blamed for the deaths of more than a thousand civilians in Beni since October 2014, began as an Islamist-rooted rebel group in Uganda that opposed Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

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

UN experts estimated the ADF in 2018 to number around 450 fighters.

A report to the UN Security Council recently said the ADF seemed to follow an extreme Islamist ideology, but there is no information on whether the group has links with international jihadist groups.

The spate of massacres has become a major challenge for President Felix Tshisekedi, who took office a year ago.

AFP

36 Killed As Suspected Militia Attack Villages In DR Congo

 

Thirty-six people have been killed in a suspected militia attack in the eastern DR Congo region of Beni, where hundreds have died in violence since November, a local official said Wednesday.

Congolese troops have been carrying out a military operation on an armed group in the east of the country — long plagued by various militias — and militiamen have responded with a series of massacres against civilians.

“They were all hacked to death. This brings (the toll) to 36 bodies,” local Beni governor Donat Kibwana told AFP, updating casualties from Tuesday’s attack.

Officials had earlier reported 15 fatalities.

Two people with skull fractures caused by machetes have been admitted to the hospital in Oicha for surgery, an AFP reporter there said.

The main attack took place late Tuesday in Manzingi, a village 20 kilometres (12 miles) northwest from Oicha, while a pastor was also killed in nearby Eringeti.

According to a toll compiled by a civil society organisation, the Kivu Security Tracker (KST), 265 people have now been killed in the Beni region since the army began its crackdown on the armed group, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), on October 30.

The massacres seem to be a tactic by the ADF to frighten the population into silence, local commentators say.

The group has also disrupted operations to curb an outbreak of Ebola in North Kivu province.

Tuesday’s massacre occurred to the west of the ADF’s usual area of operations, which is closer to the Ugandan border.

The army offensive, unfolding in thick forest and jungle, has led to what the military say is the capture of the group’s headquarters and the killing of five of its six leaders.

Brutal militia

The ADF, blamed for the deaths of more than a thousand civilians in Beni since October 2014, began as an Islamist-rooted rebel group in Uganda that opposed Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

It fell back into the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in 1995 during the Congo Wars and appears to have halted raids inside Uganda. Its recruits today are people of various nationalities.

UN experts estimated the ADF in 2018 to number around 450 fighters.

A report to the UN Security Council last week said the ADF seemed to follow an extreme Islamist ideology, but there is no information on whether the group had links with international jihadist groups.

The spate of massacres has become a major challenge for President Felix Tshisekedi, who took office a year ago last Friday.

In November, angry protests erupted in the city of Beni, the region’s administrative hub, as citizens accused the UN peacekeeping force in DR Congo of failing to protect them.

Tshisekedi, in his first state-of-the-nation address to Congress, last month said he had changed the army command in Beni and sent 22,000 troops to the region.

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