Within days, 58 people were killed in two massacres in the province of Ituri, in the northeastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. A minister accused the Allied Democratic Forces, an armed group of Ugandan origin. A delegation is expected in the region on Friday on security issues.
Two new massacres have left the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) in mourning, a region plagued by violence since 2017: first 23 people were killed on September 8, then 35, two days later, in the Tshabi forest area, on Irumus territory, near the Ugandan border.
The interior minister of the province, Adjio Gidi, accused the Ugandan armed group of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) of being behind the two massacres that triggered “a major population movement”. The perpetrators “are ADF fleeing military pressure on the side of the province of North Kivu, just in Beni,” he said.
“Our elements are already in place” in the face of the “enemy”, said the Interior Minister for Ituri. In fact, the Congolese army claims that since November last year, it has been carrying out “large-scale operations” against the ADF in the province of North Kivu, near Ituri. These militiamen, who live in the bush, are attacking civilians in Ituri ahead of the army offensive.
A high-level official delegation will arrive in Bunia, the capital of Ituri, on Friday, September 11, to address security issues in the province. The central government’s interior and defense ministers are announced, as are the army chief of staff and the head of the internal intelligence service, a source from the governor said. Former warlords were also sent to Ituri by President Félix Tshisekedi on a peace mission.
Massacres with knives and firearms
Originally the Ugandan Muslim rebels, the ADF has killed 890 people since April 2017, according to experts from the Kivu Security Barometer (KST), who began counting on that date. The ADF is therefore one of the three most violent armed groups among those still active in the eastern DRC, more than a hundred, the same source.
“People have been killed by all kinds of weapons, blades and firearms,” said Tshabi Nyali group leader Richard Balengilyao. The same source reports 17 missing and probably kidnapped people. “The Tshabi area is a forest area, so searches are very difficult. At present, the Congolese army, assisted by the population, is still looking for victims in the forest,” she added.
The border with South Sudan and Uganda, rich in gold, Ituri province has been the site of other civilian massacres in its northern part, on Djugo territory, since December 2017. In Djugu and its environs, the Congolese militia (Codeco) cooperative is accused of for killing hundreds of civilians, and claims to be defending one of Ituri’s communities, Lendu.
In total, more than a thousand civilians have been massacred since December 2017 in Ituri, according to the UN, and more than 200,000 civilians were forced to flee the abuses in May last year. The UNHCR and its partners said in May that they had identified more than 3,000 “serious human rights violations” in the territory of Djuguu, still Ituri, in March and April, with at least 50 attacks per day on local people.
In January, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet condemned “crimes against humanity”.