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DRC soldiers have been battling militia and rebel groups for years

Africa

46 Pygmies killed in militia attack in eastern DR Congo

Bunia, DR Congo, Jan 15 – Forty-six Pygmies have been massacred in eastern DR Congo’s Ituri province by the notorious Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia, local sources said on Friday.

“ADF rebels overran the village of Abembi” on Thursday, said Gili Gotabo, a local NGO leader.

“Forty-six people died and two were wounded, all of them from the Pygmy community,” he said.

The province’s interior minister, Adjio Gigi, confirmed the toll and also blamed the ADF, which has been accused of hundreds of killings in the past year.

The attack took place in a local chiefdom called Walese Vonkutu, on Ituri’s border with North Kivu province, the sourcs said.

Originating in the 1990s as a Ugandan Muslim rebel group, the ADF is the most notorious of more than 100 militias that plague eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a country the size of western continental Europe.

It has been accused of slaughtering hundreds of civilians in North Kivu and southern Ituri in reprisal for an army offensive launched  in late 2019.

At least 25 civilians were killed on New Year’s Eve in the area of Beni in North Kivu. 

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Last Friday, the Congolese army said the ADF “executed 50 hostages” on January 5 after troops attacked the villge of Loselose, which the group had seized three days earlier.

According to an experts’ report submitted last month to the UN Security Council, the ADF has fragmented in the face of the government campaign, and now operates in small, mobile groups.

On Tuesday, a local NGO called Lucha, or Movement for Change, backed this view.

It said 1,206 civilians had been killed in the Beni region of North Kivu since October 30 2019, the date of the army’s offensive against armed groups.

“Instead of halting the kilings and neutralising the assailants, the military operations have dispersed the assailants over quite vast areas, and they are continuing to massacre civilians as they pass through,” Lucha said.

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