Dozens killed in suspected rebel attack in eastern DRC

Two kids sit on bamboo canes in Bukavu, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo Two kids sit on bamboo canes in Bukavu, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo Photo by Imani Bahati on Unsplash

15 January 2021

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) are believed to have carried out the raid against civilians from the pygmy ethnic group, killing at least 46 people

The attack, reported on Thursday 14 January by a senior non-governmental organization official based in the country, took place in Ambedi, a village in Irumu territory of the Ituri province situated in the north-eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The death toll currently stands at 46, as reported by provincial Interior Minister Adjio Gidi, although the process of recovering bodies is still underway.

According to sources, most of the victims were women and children from the pygmy ethnic group. Comprising about 1 percent of Congo’s population, these indigenous communities have become extremely marginalised, suffering the consequences of conflict, discrimination, exploitation and poor protection of their human and land rights. Consequently, they have become a regular target for armed groups.

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) are believed to have carried out the massacre, and two of the assailants have been arrested. The armed group originated in the 1990s in western Uganda, and is considered a terrorist organisation by the country, but has since expanded into the neighbouring DRC. In recent years, the ADF has intensified its attacks against civilians in the eastern provinces of the DRC, killing hundreds between January 2019 and June 2020, with localities around Beni, Irumu, and Mambasa territories in the gold-rich province of Ituri at the centre of this violence.

Long-standing issues, unresolved since the early 2000s, over the control and illicit exploitation of land and natural resources between communities, and competition over the gold mines, continue to be a root cause and driver for conflict in the east of the country. Ituri’s gold mines have long attracted the attention of ex-rebels, politicians, and Congolese military officials involved in smuggling the precious metal into neighbouring countries, thus creating an opportunity for militia groups operating in the area, who are known to be involved in mineral trafficking.

 

To read more, visit:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/1/15/scores

 

Author: Giulia Ferrara; Editor: Xavier Atkins

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