Congo: killing of civilians in Ituri province

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30 October 2021

CODECO-URDPC and ALC armed groups continue with attacks in Ituri province

On Friday, 29 October, two armed groups from CODECO, the Union of Revolutionaries for the Defence of the Congolese People (URDPC) and the Alliance for the Liberation of the Congo (ALC), carried out a raid in the village of Gina and Nizi killing at least 14 civilians, according to Kivu Security Tracker (KST). The incursions started at 4:00 a.m. and the armed forces managed to regain control of the area around 11:00 a.m.  

Ituri province is one of the three eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo and besides being rich in minerals it also has a long history of ethnic feuds, some of them between herders and farmers over cattle.

The two major communities, Hema and Lendu, have been in conflict for a long time, but the peak of the fighting was between 1999 and 2003, when dozens of people died. Following the violence of those years, the European Union intervened with Operation Artemis, which acted as an interim emergency force authorised by the United Nations and managed to contain the fighting until 2017. In that year, following the emergence of an armed group, the Congo Development Cooperative (CODECO), violence resumed. CODECO’s militia has over time fragmented into several rival factions, due to internal discord and different strategic ambitions, and this increased insecurity in Ituri province. The CODECO-URDPC is the largest armed group emerged from the fragmentation, and its main leaders are Songa Mbele, Désiré Londroma and Bassa Zukpa.

Since May 2021, Ituri province has been placed in a “state of siege” to combat the wave of attacks by armed groups and inter-communal clashes. With this exceptional measure, which has never been applied before, the authorities suspended all the civil officials and temporarily replaced them with the military. However, it seems that this has not been enough: since May, civilians continue to be killed at almost the same rate as before, according to data compiled by the Kivu Security Tracker, which maps violence in the region.


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Author: Eleonora Lombardi; Editor: Jasmina Saric

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