At least 15 people have been killed in a militia attack in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, military and local sources said Monday, an area where civilians are suffering increasing violence.
Militiamen from the Cooperative for the Development of the Congo (CODECO) — a militia group involved in numerous brutal ethnic killings — carried out an attack on a fishing camp in Gobu on Sunday, said Charite Banza, president of civil society in a chiefdom in Ituri province.
Sunday’s attack lasted a little over two hours, and killed at least 15 people, Banza told AFP, adding that a week earlier seven other people had been killed in the same area.
Ituri province is one of eastern DR Congo’s violence hotspots, where attacks claiming dozens of lives are common.
Pilo Mulindo, the head of the same chiefdom of Bahema Nord, said a provisional toll showed nine civilians, one soldier and four CODECO militiamen were killed in the latest attack.
Lieutenant Jules Ngongo, the army spokesman, told AFP that the CODECO militia had “attacked civilians in the middle of prayer on Sunday in their church in Gobu, on the shores of Lake Albert”.
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Ngongo said that the military had responded to the attack and the perpetrators were being prosecuted, without giving more details.
The CODECO militia, which comprises several thousand fighters, claims to protect the Lendu community from rival ethnic group, the Hema.
After a decade of calm, the conflict between the Hema and Lendu communities rekindled in 2017, resulting in thousands of deaths and forcing more than 1.5 million people from their homes.
Much of eastern DR Congo is plagued by dozens of armed groups, a legacy of regional wars that flared in the 1990s and 2000s.
In June at least 46 people, half of them children, were killed in a CODECO attack on a camp for displaced people in Ituri province.
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