Armed men slaughtered 46 people with knives and firearms, and burned others in their homes in Ituri, local authorities say
Militants attacked a camp for displaced people in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ituri province early on Monday, killing at least 46 people, according to RT News.
Local authorities blamed the Lala camp attack on the Cooperative for the Development of the Congo (CODECO) group, a militia operating in the violence-ridden east of the country.
The chief of Bahema Badjere District, Jean Richard Lenga, was quoted by Reuters as saying that armed men had slaughtered 46 people with knives and firearms, and burned others in their homes in the middle of the camp.
“The whole village is in mourning now, it’s too sad,” he said, adding that authorities were still looking for bodies, with the number of casualties expected to rise as many huts in the camp had been burned down. According to Lenga, many residents fled to the nearby town of Bule, where a United Nations peacekeeping base is located.
“They began to fire shots, many people were burned to death in their homes, others were killed by machete,” Desire Malodra, a civil society representative, told AFP. Another local civil rights group leader, Charite Banza, told Reuters that the victims would be buried in a mass grave.
Monday’s attack follows a similar one on Saturday, also blamed on CODECO, in the Djukoth area of the province’s Mahagi territory, which left seven people dead.
The CODECO militia, drawn primarily from the agriculturalist Lendu ethnic group, which has a long-running feud with Hema pastoralists, is alleged to have frequently targeted displacement camps. It is said to have killed 60 people last year at a displaced persons’ camp in eastern DRC.
Earlier this year, seven people, including five children, were reportedly killed in the northeastern area, while mass graves containing the bodies of 49 civilians were discovered in two villages in Ituri.