At least 20 people have been killed in a new massacre in DR Congo’s eastern province of Ituri, a respected observer said Monday, adding that the notorious ADF militia was suspected.
Several houses were also burned down in the attack.
The attack took place overnight in the village of Bwanasura in Irumu Territory, the Kivu Security Tracker (KST) said on Twitter.
David Beiza , head of the Red Cross in Irumu, said volunteers from his organization “counted 36 bodies” at the site of the massacre. Wars in eastern DRC.
KST said the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) — a group the so-called Islamic State describes as its affiliate — were suspected of being behind the killing.< /p>
The heavily militarized province of Ituri is seeing increasing deadly attacks, despite joint operations between Congolese and Ugandan armies for more than six months in the province and North Kivu. Congolese and Ugandan militaries launched the third phase of operations against Ugandan ADF rebels on June 1.
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Beiza said: “The ADF rebels arrived around 8 p.m. They moved calmly. Luckily, many residents were able to flee.”
Dieudonne Malangay, a civil society leader in Walese Vonkutu district, said the army reacted “too late”. “Bullets are still flying in the area,” he said.
On Monday, M23 rebels bombed an army position in Bugusa in Rutshuru territory in North Kivu, killing two soldiers and wounding five, it said military in a statement.
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Those by the military governor’s spokesman The statement signed by General Sylvain Ekenge indicated that Rwanda was supplying arms to the rebels.
“The deployment of long-range artillery demonstrates the support M23 is receiving from its natural ally,” the general said .
In May fighting broke out between the army and the M23, a mainly Congolese Tutsi group. Kinshasa has repeatedly accused Kigali of supporting the M23, although Rwanda has denied the charges.
Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi said on Sunday he had “no doubts” about Rwanda’s support for the rebels but hoped so to mend ties with Kigali.
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ADF was accused of massacres, kidnappings and looting of dates blamed as far back as 2013, with the death toll estimated in the thousands.
Ituri and North Kivu have been under a “state of siege” since May last year – a measure imposed by army chiefs in positions of authority Speeding prompted increased efforts to improve security.
The ADF was also attacked in a joint operation last November by government and Ugandan forces was launched after bombings in the Ugandan capital Kampala.
The operation, which was scheduled to end on May 31, has been extended by two months.
Despite the crackdown, ADF attacks continue nued – experts said in March the group had moved further inland after facing pressure at the border.
At least 1,300 civilians remain in Irumu and Beni have died in North Kivu since the “state of siege” was imposed, according to local elected officials.
In March, at least 30 people were killed by suspected rebels in North Kivu, and more than 50 people died in a two-day attack on villages in Irumu.
In May, at least 42 people were killed in attacks attributed to the ADF in Bulongo and Beu-Manyama in North Kivu.
The ADF is historically a Ugandan rebel coalition whose largest group consisted of Muslims who opposed n the presidents were Yoweri Museveni.
The group was formed in eastern DRC in 1995 and became the deadliest of dozens of outlaw forces in the deeply troubled region.
As of April 2019 attack some ADF in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo have been claimed by the Islamic State, which describes the group as its local offshoot, the Islamic State of Central Africa province.
The United St Last year, the ADF was listed of “terrorist” organizations linked to ISIS.
More than 120 armed groups roam eastern DRC.
Ituri also suffers from ethnic attacks, led by CODECO militia claiming to represent the Lendu community against the rival Hema group and the security forces.
– Additional reporting by Patrick Ilunga