Attack kills 36 in eastern Congo: local official

FRENCH PRESS AGENCY - AFP
OICHA, Congo
Published 29.01.2020 21:52
Congolese riot policemen gather to disperse supporters of Martin Fayulu, Jan. 12, 2019. Reuters File Photo
Congolese riot policemen gather to disperse supporters of Martin Fayulu, Jan. 12, 2019. (Reuters File Photo)

Some 36 people have been killed in the eastern Congo region of Beni, a local official said Wednesday.

Previously the administrator for the Beni region, Donat Kibwana, told AFP that in the past 24 hours, "14 bodies have been found hacked to death," while a pastor was killed in a separate attack.

Two people with skull fractures caused by machetes have been admitted to the hospital in Oicha for surgery, an AFP reporter there said.

The main attack took place late Tuesday in Manzingi, a village 20 kilometers northwest from Oicha, while the pastor was killed in Eringeti.

According to a toll compiled by a civil society organization, the Kivu Security Tracker (KST), 265 people have now been killed in the Beni region since the army began a crackdown on an armed group, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), on Oct. 30.

The massacres seem to be a tactic by the ADF to frighten the population into silence, say local commentators.

The group has also disrupted operations to curb an outbreak of Ebola in North Kivu province

Tuesday's massacre occurred to the west of the ADF's usual area of operations, which is closer to the Ugandan border.

The army offensive, unfolding in thick forest and jungle, has led to what the military say is the capture of the group's headquarters and the killing of five of its six leaders.

The ADF began as a rebel group in Uganda that opposed Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

It fell back into the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in 1995 during the Congo Wars and appears to have halted raids inside Uganda. Its recruits today are people of various nationalities.

U.N. experts estimated the ADF in 2018 to number around 450 fighters.

The spate of massacres has become a major challenge for President Felix Tshisekedi, who took office a year ago last Friday.

In November, angry protests erupted in the city of Beni, the region's administrative hub, as citizens accused the U.N. peacekeeping force in Congo of failing to protect them.

Tshisekedi, in his first state-of-the-nation address to congress, last month said he had changed the army command in Beni and sent 22,000 troops to the region.

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