Protesting Congolese took to the streets of Beni, in northeastern Congo, erecting barricades, on Sunday in anger following the slaughter of dozens of civilians by suspected rebels a day before.
The attackers hacked to death at least 36 civilians, including 22 men and 14 women, in their homes and fields on the outskirts of Beni, Julien Paluku, the provincial governor said.
“The population of Beni has once again been hit by terrorist acts of diverse origins whose objective is to sabotage the efforts at peace undertaken over the last two years,” said Paluku.
“Local activists say more than 500 civilians have been killed near Beni since October 2014, most in overnight raids by rebels carried out with machetes and hatchets,” reported the Voice of America (VOA).
Ugandan Islamist militia group, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), are suspected of being behind the attacks, army spokesperson Mak Hazukay reportedly said.
The ADF, comprising only 700 members, has been operating in eastern Congo since the mid-1990s.
The rebels merged with the remnants of another rebel group, the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (NALU), during the years following the fall of Idi Amin.
ADF-NALU’s initial goal was to overthrow Ugandan’s President Yoweri Museveni government, replacing it with an Islamic fundamentalist state.
While Hazukay said the attack was in reprisal for Congolese military operations against the ADF. According to VOA, “a United Nations panel of experts and independent analysts says that other armed groups, including some Congolese soldiers, have been involved in attacks on civilians.”
It appeared to be the deadliest attack in the area since an assault blamed on the ADF in November 2014 killed some 80 people.
Omar Kavota, the executive director at the Centre of Study for the Promotion of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights that documents violence in North Kivu, said he had received reports of as many as 50 dead.
– African News Agency (ANA)