Seventeen civilians are reported to have been killed by rebels of the Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) during an attack on Mbidjo village, situated in Djugu, Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to the president of the civil society of Mbidjo, Jules Uwechi, the CODECO militia invaded the village yesterday, Friday, Sept. 9, 2022 in the morning but the army and military administrator of the concerned zone are yet to confirm or deny the death toll nor the attack.
“They opened fire, burnt houses and looted the belongings of inhabitants. I personally just missed being killed”, Mr. Uwechi declared from Bunia, the provincial chief town.
“By the time we returned to our homes, we met seventeen corpses, including seven women, eight men and two children,” revealed the civil society president, adding that eleven corpses were buried in a mass grave while the others were taken away by their families.
Mr. Uwechi said, “There are no soldiers in the village and there was no military intervention against the militia as they massacred the civilians,” and after the attack, the rebels returned to their bastion situated ten kilometres from Mbidjo.
The chief of the village, Richard Dz’da, revealed that more than hundreds of houses were burnt down by the assailants.
“The rebels arrived around 5.30 in the morning and carried out operations until 11 o’clock. They came from the neighbouring chiefdom of Mabendi and until now, the situation is still tense and the population is still in the bushes”, Chief Dz’da said.
“There are still people who cannot be accounted for and we are still searching for the missing. All the inhabitants had fled into the forest and we regret that the army has been doing nothing to limit the destruction,” the president of the civil society said, adding that several persons were kidnapped by the rebels.
“Right now, all the population is in disarray and the rebels reign supreme in the region”, according to Mr. Uwechi.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) recalls that fourteen persons were killed in Mongbwalu during clashes between the army and rebels on August 30 and 31, 2022.
The security situation in Djugu territory of eastern Ituri continues to deteriorate more than one year after the declaration of a state of siege on May 6, 2021 by the DR Congo head of state, President Felix Tshisekedi.
The CODECO rebels are an armed group structured around a religious sect which claims to defend the interests of the Lendu, an ethnic community in Ituri, against the rival Hema tribe and the security forces.
The militia is considered the most vicious group in eastern DR Congo. Besides civilians and soldiers, the CODECO rebels also attack displaced persons and humanitarian workers.
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