An armed group slew seven civilians in an attack on a mining town in Democratic Republic of Congo, a source said Saturday, with the army claiming it killed 36 attackers.
Fighters from the armed Cooperative for the development of Congo (Codeco) on Friday struck the town of Mungwalu, north of Ituri’s provincial capital Bunia, local community organiser Cherubin Nkuku Ndilawa told AFP.
“Seven civilians were killed by militiamen, among them two children, one a pregnant woman and four men,” he added.
The incident forced local residents to flee the town for neighbouring areas and “two Codeco militiamen captured by angry youths were burned alive,” Ndilawa said.
The army said it had “fiercely repelled” the “attempted incursion” according to the force’s local spokesman Jules Ngongo.
The military intervened and were scouting the area with at least two combat helicopters, according to witnesses.
“The provisional toll of this operation is that 36 Codeco militiamen were killed and eight captured,” Ngongo added.
Explosives dropped during the operation killed two bystanders and injured three in the mining area of Camp Blangete, he said.
Since April 2020, President Felix Tshisekedi has mandated former warlords — including Germain Katanga, convicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes against humanity — to negotiate the surrender of armed groups in Ituri that include Codeco.
The group purports to defend the interests of the Lendu community, one of the groups present in Ituri.
Since the end of 2017, the conflict in Ituri has resulted in more than 1.5 million displaced persons and several hundred deaths, mostly attributed to assailants from the Lendu community.