Congolese militia group, the Cooperative for the Development of the Congo (Codeco), has killed at least 46 people, half of them children, in a new wave of terror in Djugu, Ituri, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
The bloody attack occurred on Sunday night, according to local sources who said the people killed were at an internally displaced people’s camp.
Richard Dheda Kondo, the chief of the Bahema Badjere village in Djugu, told local media on Monday that the attack on Sunday night targeted the same people forced to flee their homes over similar attacks.
Several houses were burnt down at the Lala camp.
The Congolese government in Kinshasa did not immediately comment on the incident.
The latest attack adds to DR Congo’s problem in its eastern region, where more than 120 militia and terror groups have dominated for years.
The conflict in the DRC has been a subject of discussions at regional forums, including the East African Community (EAC) and the International Conference on Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). Both blocs and the Southern Africa Development Cooperation (SADC) have generally agreed to support Congo deal with the conflict, including by sending troops.
But Codeco’s brutality, the third such massacre in the last three months, means the problem is far from over. Codeco claims to protect the Lendu community from another group, the Hema, with which they have collided for the last decade.
In May and April this year, Codeco carried out two major attacks, killing at least 80 people.
In his latest quarterly report, published on March 27, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres estimated that 485 civilians had been killed between December 1, 2022, and March 14, 2023, in Ituri, one of the provinces where insecurity is rampant.
The UN has condemned the rise in violence, mainly by the militias.
“We will do everything that is necessary, and we will use the resources in our possession, such as the Force Intervention Brigade, to protect civilians alongside FARDC (Congolese army),” said Otavio Rodrigues de Miranda, the new commander of the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC (Monusco) when he visited the Ituri region last week.
Force Intervention Brigade is a unit with a mandate within Monusco to neutralise and disarm armed groups that threaten peace in eastern DRC.
The gold-rich province of Ituri is the scene of a deadly conflict between the Hema and Lendu communities, with militias claiming to be defending these two communities. Codeco defends the Lendu, while the Hema is defended by a militia known as Zaïre.
Ugandan ADF rebels also operate in the region.
For the past two years, all the civilian authorities have been replaced by military leaders from the Congolese army and national police to impose peace.
And since November 30 2021, the Congolese army and the Ugandan army have been carrying out joint operations to eradicate the ADF and other armed groups.