DR Congo Christ­mas slaugh­ter leaves 35 dead

Troops kill 10 sol­diers from Bu­rundi

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

GOMA, DR Congo: At­tacks in vil­lages and fight­ing be­tween mili­tias killed at least 35 peo­ple over the Christ­mas week­end in North Kivu, a ma­jor­ity Chris­tian area in eastern Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo.

The blood­shed be­gan in Eringeti-a town 55 kilo­me­tres (35 miles) north of the re­gional hub Beni, which for two years has been hit by mas­sacres killing hun­dreds, many of whom were hacked to death.

Rebels from The Al­lied Demo­cratic Forces (ADF) — dom­i­nated by pu­ri­tan­i­cal Ugan­dan Mus­lims-killed 22 peo­ple af­ter storm­ing Eringeti on Satur­day, re­gional of­fi­cial Amisi Kalonda told AFP. The toll climbed to 35 yes­ter­day with the an­nounce­ment that at least 13 Hutu civil­ians, mostly women and an eight-year-old girl, were killed on Sun­day by a mili­tia from the Nande eth­nic group.

“The vic­tims were all Hutu. There was an eight-year-old girl, a fa­ther and the rest were women,” said lo­cal of­fi­cial Alphonse Ma­hano. They were killed around the vil­lage of Nyan­zale, a Hutu ma­jor­ity com­mu­nity. The Nande and some other eth­nic groups re­gard the Hu­tus as out­siders be­cause of their at­tach­ment to the ma­jor­ity eth­nic group in neigh­bor­ing Rwanda.

A string of at­tacks in the past year by both Hutu and Nande mili­tia forces has deep­ened ha­tred be­tween the com­mu­ni­ties. Hutu farm­ers have also been forced to aban­don land fur­ther south be­cause of high prop­erty costs and un­der pres­sure from ma­jor landown­ers.

Re­lent­less blood­shed

Al­though Con­golese of­fi­cials have blamed the at­tacks on the ADF, sev­eral ex­pert re­ports have sug­gested that other groups, in­clud­ing el­e­ments within the Con­golese army, took part in some killings. When the Beni mas­sacres be­gan in Oc­to­ber 2014, the ADF was quickly branded the cul­prit by both DR Congo au­thor­i­ties and MONUSCO, the UN mis­sion in DR Congo.

More than two years on, Con­golese au­thor­i­ties and the UN have been un­able to pro­tect civil­ians and the ADF re­mains the only of­fi­cial ex­pla­na­tion-with the gov­ern­ment in­sist­ing on a ji­hadist link to the killings. It comes as re­la­tions with the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity have soured over Pres­i­dent Joseph Ka­bila’s re­fusal to step down de­spite his term end­ing on De­cem­ber 20.

Sep­a­rately, the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC) an­nounced yes­ter­day that its troops had killed 10 sol­diers from neigh­bor­ing Bu­rundi af­ter they crossed the border last week in pur­suit of rebels.

“There were 10 deaths,” Ma­jor Dieudonne Ka­jib­wami, told AFP, fol­low­ing a pre­vi­ous state­ment that five bod­ies had been taken to Uvira, a lake­side town in the eastern South Kivu prov­ince.

Kivu is rich in nat­u­ral, mainly min­eral re­sources, such as gold, coltan and cas­si­terite, cov­eted by the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions in­dus­try. Both south and north Kivu have rich agri­cul­tural and forestry re­sources.

North Kivu is one of the DRC’s most densely pop­u­lated ar­eas. Tiny com­pared to the vast size of the coun­try, the two prov­inces suf­fer not only be­cause of fight­ing over their min­eral re­sources but be­cause of their prox­im­ity to an un­sta­ble border with Bu­rundi, Rwanda and Uganda, along with Tan­za­nia.

—AFP

This file photo taken on July 16, 2016 shows a gen­eral view of the vil­lage of Buleusa. A mili­tia from DR Congo’s Nande eth­nic group has killed 13 civil­ians in­clud­ing a child from the Hutu com­mu­nity in the restive North Kivu prov­ince, an of­fi­cial told AFP yes­ter­day.

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