Rebels kill at least 7 civilians in eastern Congo

Saleh Mwanamilongo
Associated Press

Beni, Congo — A rebel attack in eastern Congo has killed at least seven civilians and wounded three, a local official said Monday.

Dozens of homes were burned in the attack overnight Sunday in Kabanda, about 112 miles north of Goma in North Kivu province, said Justin Mukanya, administrator of the Rutshuru territory.

He could not identify which group staged the attack in an area where there have been ethnic tensions.

“I will launch an investigation, because this is an area besieged by several foreign and local militias,” he said.

Eastern Congo is home to multiple armed groups, many vying for control of the region’s vast mineral resources.

Witnesses told a local rights group that the attack was carried out by a coalition between a local ethnic Hutu militia group, Nyatura, and Rwandan Hutu rebels known by their French acronym, FDLR, said Omar Kavota, director of the Center for Studies of Peace and Defense of Human Rights. The group tracks civilian deaths in the region.

Attacks since Saturday have left at least 17 people dead in the region, Kavota said. The attacks came after the killing of a civilian by the Mai-Mai militia group in Kibirizi, which displaced community members to other areas, he said.

Mukanya, the territorial administrator, said the various ethnic populations have lived together for years. He blamed the latest violence on local leaders.

“It’s a manipulation by certain local leaders to impose the influence or their political positions to try to manipulate the peaceful populations,” he said.