Fourteen civilians, including children, were killed in an attack on a refugee camp in Ituri province in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a monitoring organization and a local civilian group said. Tuesday.
The attack took place Monday in the Djugu area of Ituri, according to the Kivu Security Tracker (KST), a respected observer of violence in the conflict-torn region.
He added that he suspected that militants from an armed ethnic group called CODECO were behind the attack.
CODECO – name of the Congo Development Cooperative – is a political-religious sect that claims to represent the interests of the Lendu ethnic group.
It is considered one of the deadliest militias operating in the east of the country, accused of numerous ethnic massacres.
Jules Tsuba, president of an association of civil society groups in Djugu, said most of the victims of Monday’s attack were children and stressed that the death toll is provisional.
“It is shocking to see children torn apart by machetes,” he told AFP.
The photos seen by the AFP showed children lying on the ground, covered in blood.
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ituri and neighboring North Kivu province have been ruled by security forces since May last year in an attempt to stem the attacks. However, the massacres of civilians continued.
– state of victory –
Referred to as a “state of siege” in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the military and police-led administrations of Ituri and North Kivu have come under criticism for their apparent ineffectiveness.
The provinces are plagued by an increasing number of attacks from various militias, including CODECO and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which the Islamic State group describes as its local affiliate.
According to the KST, around 2,500 civilians were killed between May 2021 and April 2022 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
President Felix Tshisekedi, under the pressure of the deputies of the provinces, decided to review the effectiveness of the state of siege.
Amnesty International, in a report released Tuesday, said the strategy led to abuse rather than increased security.
“The military and police authorities used their powers during the state of siege to crack down on anyone they find critical, including members of parliament and human rights activists,” the human rights group said.
“They continue to crack down on peaceful protests and throw activists in jail.”
Monday’s attack in Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ituri follows a raid on a gold mine in the restless province the previous day that killed at least 35 people.
The details of that attack are confusing, although a local official also blamed CODECO.