By Our Reporter
More than 20 civilians have been killed in an attack on a village in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), officials said.
The violence that claimed 22 lives in Mwenda village of the Beni territory was perpetrated by the Ugandan rebel group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), Donat Kibwana, the administrator of the Beni territory, told reporters.
“ADF rebels attacked the village of Mwenda on Monday, killing 22 civilians with machetes,” Kibwana said, adding the death toll was provisional.
The ADF is a rebel group in Uganda and the DRC, considered a terrorist organisation by the Ugandan government. It was originally based in western Uganda but has expanded into the neighbouring DRC.
According to UN figures, the group has killed more than 1,000 civilians in 2019 and 2020, despite repeated offensives by the army and UN peacekeepers against the group over the past decade.
Local leaders Ruwenzori Bozy Sindiwako and Iteni Muvunga Kimwele said on Tuesday that the rebels used machetes and bladed weapons to carry out the massacre and systematically loot the settlement.
Fulbert Kasairo, a local official, said a dozen other villagers were also kidnapped by the group in order to transport stolen goods to other localities.
The army intervened too late to push back the rebels, Bozy Sindiwako and Muvunga Kimwele said.
“These repeated killings are causing massive displacements of the population of this sector towards secure areas, including, in particular, the city of Beni,” Sindiwako said.
Lieutenant Antony Mwalushayi of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) confirmed the attack without giving details.
Authorities said on Monday they discovered 21 bodies “in a state of decomposition” in the localities of Loselose and Loulo in the same region after a passage of the rebels.
The ADF, which originated in Uganda’s north-east in the 1990s, has been attacking and killing civilians in eastern DRC for decades.
The illicit exploitation of natural resources continues to be a root cause and driver of conflict in the east of the country, according to the UN.
Most of the militia groups have set aside their political demands and are involved in mineral trafficking.