According to local community leader Banguneni Gbalande, at least 17 hostages of CODECO insurgents were slain in the Djugu territory, located about 45 kilometres north of Bunia in the Ituri province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. AFP reported that the families of some of those slain, according to Gbalande, informed him of the situation.
Another regional traditional leader, Toko Kagbanese, told AFP that the “hostages are dead, they have been executed by the CODECO militia.”
The Cooperative for the Development of the Congo (CODECO) is one of the numerous military organisations present in the unrest-ridden, mineral-rich area.
According to a local in Bambu, one of the two villages attacked on Saturday, the residents were held captive after three CODECO members were slain in an altercation with an opposing militia.
A pregnant woman was among those held captive, according to the source, who wished to remain anonymous for security reasons.
In the gold-rich Ituri province, dozens of people have been killed every week since the close of 2022. 30 people, including women and children, have died in a string of massacres that have been attributed to CODECO militants in recent days.
A militia known as CODECO claims to defend the Lendu community from the troops and the Hema, a different ethnic group.
Numerous armed groups, many of which are a result of local conflicts that erupted in the 1990s and 2000s, are present throughout Eastern Congo. Ituri province is one of the violence hotspots, where attacks claiming dozens of lives are routine.
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