Armed ViolenceNews

22 Die As DR Congo Army Clashes With Rebels In Ituri Province

Violence returned to the mineral-rich Ituri province in 2017 when CODECO militia arrived in the area.

The corpses of 14 civilians and eight militia fighters were yesterday, Thursday, Sept. 1, discovered in the bushes after two days of fighting between the Democratic Republic of Congo national army, FARDC, and a militia group in Ituri to the northeast of DR Congo.

According to local administrative sources, the fighting took place on Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 31, as the army tried to push back Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) rebels who came to attack the mining village of Mongbwalu. HumAngle understands that their aim was to liberate several persons arrested by the security forces.

“Today, Thursday, during mopping up operations in the zone, our forces discovered twenty-two corpses, eight of whom were CODECO elements killed by the army and fourteen civilians killed by the rebels,” declared Jean-Pierre Bikilisende, mayor of the Mongbwalu rural council in northeast Ituri.

“Right now, the situation is under control,” he added while calling on the population to be calm and for the rebels to lay down their arms.

During a mass burial, grave diggers counted 17 civilian corpses, according to the officer in charge of the Mongbwalu health centre who took part in the burial.

Violence returned to the mineral-rich Ituri province in 2017 when CODECO militia arrived in the area.

CODECO is an armed group structured around a religious sect which claims to protect the interests of the Lendu ethnic group against the rival Hema group and the security forces.

The militia is considered one of the most violent groups in eastern DR Congo. Besides civilians and soldiers, CODECO rebels have also been attacking displaced persons and humanitarian workers.

The provinces of Ituri and North Kivu in the eastern DR Congo have been under siege since May 6, 2021. Exceptional measures were taken to curtail or completely eradicate the activities of rebel groups in eastern Congo, but the attacks and massacres of civilians continue.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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