At least 19 people have been killed by suspected militants in a raid on a village in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to the local authorities, the attackers looted houses and started fires in Kasanzi-Kithovo near Virunga National Park in North Kivu province overnight between Friday and Saturday,
A villager, Kahindo Lembula, expressed sadness about the state of insecurity in the area, “I don’t know where to go with my two children,” she lost four of her relatives in the attack, “Only God will help us.” She said
The head of Buliki district, Kalunga Meso, and local rights group CEPADHO blamed the assault on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a militant group accused of killing thousands of people in recent years, mostly in remote areas.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility and the ADF could not be reached.
The government declared martial law in North Kivu and neighboring Ituri province at the beginning of May, in an attempt to quell a surge in violence that the military largely attributes to the ADF.
But the number of civilians killed in such attacks has only increased since then, according to the Kivu Security Tracker, which maps unrest in eastern Congo.
Earlier in August, President Felix Tshisekedi said special forces from the United States would soon deploy to the east to gauge the potential for a local anti-terrorism unit to combat extremist violence.
The ADF was blacklisted in March by Washington as a terrorist group. It has publicly aligned itself with the Islamic State, which in turn has claimed responsibility for some of its Attacks.
But in a June report, U.N. experts said they had found no evidence of direct support from the Islamic State to the ADF.
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