Seventeen people died yesterday during a militia attack on a village in northeastern DR Congo, a local civil society head announced.
Gunmen from the feared CODECO militia stormed Mbidjo in Ituri province’s Djugu territory during the morning, said Jules Uwechi, chairman of the village’s civil society group.
‘They opened fire, set houses ablaze, and pillaged the property of villagers… I myself narrowly escaped,’ Uwechi said in the provincial capital Bunia.
‘When we went back we found 17 people had been killed — seven women, eight men, and two children.’
Eleven of the bodies had been buried in a mass grave.
The army and the territory’s administrator said by early evening they were not in a position to confirm the death toll.
But Uwechis explained, ‘There are no soldiers (at Mbidjo), there was no intervention against the militia.’
After the assault, the attackers returned to their stronghold some 10 kilometres (six miles) away, he added.
CODECO or Cooperative for the Development of the Congo is a political-religious sect that claims to represent the interests of the Lendu ethnic group.
It is considered one of the deadliest of the more than 120 militias operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s troubled east, and has been blamed for a number of ethnic massacres in Ituri.
Africa Daily News, New York reports that Congo’s government put security officials in charge of gold-rich Ituri and neighbouring North Kivu province in a bid to curb violence, but the attacks continue.