Rebels of the Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) on Tuesday, March 8, killed 18 persons, 12 of them taking refuge in a Catholic church in Kilo.
Jean-Pierre Basiloko, President of the Banyali-Kilo sector civil society told HumAngle that the victims were those fleeing from violence in a neighbouring village and were housed in the Catholic parish of Kilo, DR Congo.
“These militia attacked us around 5:30 am. They started firing shots and we were forced to lock ourselves in the house. They entered one of the apartments where displaced persons were sleeping. After they left, we found 12 corpses,” an official of the Church who did not want to be named for his safety revealed.
“Several persons escaped into the bushes and we hope all of them are still alive. Soldiers intervened and they were still there by midday in the parish which hosts one thousand displaced persons.”
According to Basiloko, the rebels also killed four other persons in a nearby attack while two others died from wounds inflicted on them earlier.
He said the CODECO rebels had first attacked a DR Congo army position near the parish and later attacked the church.
CODECO is an armed group with religious affiliations. It claims to defend the interests of the Lendu tribe, which is a community in Ituri, against the army and the Hema tribe.
The United Nations and DR Congo authorities blame CODECO for most of the violence in Ituri especially in the northern part of the province that has been going on since 2017.
The CODECO rebels have since Feb. 16, been holding eight persons hostage, among them an army general, who had been dispatched by President Felix Tshisekedi to negotiate peace in the province.
“There have been no significant advances in the negotiations for the release of the eight hostages,” according to a member of the peace mission in the zone.
Ituri and neighbouring North Kivu provinces are under a state of siege declared by President Felix Tshisekedi on May 6, 2021, which gives full powers to soldiers with a view to putting an end to the activities of armed groups.
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