Mon. Dec 6th, 2021

Officials in Ituri province say six children, two women among those killed when CODECO rebels stormed the village of Drodro.

Armed rebels killed at least 12 people during an attack on displaced civilians in northeastern Ituri province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a military spokesman said.

Fighters from the Cooperative for the Development of the Congo (CODECO) group raided the village of Drodro on Sunday night, killing six children, four men and two women, Jules Ngongo, a spokesman for Ituri’s military government, told Reuters. news agency said.

Some local groups said the death toll was higher.

Attacks by CODECO have killed hundreds of civilians in Ituri province’s Djugu area since 2017, forcing thousands to flee their homes, according to the United Nations.

CODECO’s fighters come mainly from the Lendu farming community, which has long been in conflict with Hema herders.

“Their goal was to attack the population displaced in Drodro,” Ngongo said.

Ngabu Lidja Chrysante, a priest and coordinator for the Catholic charity Caritas in Ituri, said his colleagues on the ground saw the bodies of 35 people killed in the attack, which also targeted the local church.

According to the US-based Kivu Security Tracker, which maps violent incidents in DRC, 107 bodies were found in Drodro and surrounding villages.

“The vast majority of the dead are civilians,” the group said.

Mathias Gilman, spokesman for the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Congo, said at least 16,000 people fleeing the attacks had taken refuge at a nearby site protected by peacekeepers.

CODECO spokesman Patrick Basa denied that the group had killed civilians. He told Reuters his fighters clashed with a Hema militia in Drodro, but said civilians had already fled the area.

Conflict between the Lendu and Hema communities from 1999 to 2007 led to an estimated 50,000 deaths in one of the bloodiest chapters of a civil war in the east of the DRC.

Neighboring North Kivu and Ituri provinces have been under siege since May 6, an exceptional measure to combat armed groups such as the CODECO – as well as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) – with civilian authorities. replaced by military and police officers.

The ADF, which saw the United States as a “terrorist group”, is one of many armed groups operating in the mineral-rich eastern DRC.

In August, the group burned and hacked at least 19 civilians in the Beni area of ​​North Kivu, according to local officials.

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