Ituri– Local reports stated on Monday that at least 15 people were killed by militia groups in two separate attacks in Ituri, a region under siege in the north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). According to Ngandjole Assani, a local civil society leader, militiamen “burned houses, looted stores, and killed six people, including four women,” in the Mabanga neighborhood of Djugu’s territory.
Mr. Assani blamed the death on militiamen from the armed group Cooperative for the Development of Congo (Codeco): “There were no FARDC forces when these Codeco militiamen entered here in Mabanga,” he added. “Eleven bodies were discovered… with ten more suffering various degrees of injuries,” said Jonas Lemi Zorabo, traditional chief of the Babao-Bokoe district, where Kokonyangi/Mumu is located. “Nine dead in Kokonyangi/Mumu,” according to researchers from the Kivu Security Barometer (KST) in the area.
The FARDC representative in Ituri confirmed the attacks but declined to provide any additional information. Codeco is an armed group based in Ituri that claims to be defending Lendu tribe people from the DRC army and the Hema tribe. After a 20-year hiatus, the organization is suspected of being behind the violence that has engulfed this gold-rich region since late 2017. In 2019, neighborhood factions, especially the FPIC, were more organized and well-armed, escalating the bloodshed.
Since May, the provinces of Ituri and North Kivu have been under siege, a rare move that gives the military complete control. However, neither this action nor the ongoing military operations have been able to bring the bloodshed to a halt. After a “mother and son were killed” in their home in the neighborhood of Oicha “on Sunday night by soldiers,” the irate populace in the neighboring Ituri province of North Kivu stopped a key road for many hours on Monday, according to Nicolas Kikuku, mayor of the town.