Suspected rebels killed at least 36 civilians in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the provincial governor said on Sunday, marking the deadliest massacre in the conflict-ravaged region this year.
Julien Paluku, The governor of North Kivu province said in a statement that attackers hacked to death 22 men and 14 women late on Saturday in their homes and fields on the outskirts of the local commercial hub of Beni.
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,” he said.
Local army spokesman Mak Hazukay told Reuters that the attack was staged in the early evening by rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan Islamist militia that has operated in eastern Congo since the 1990s.
Hazukay said the raid was in reprisal for army operations against the ADF, which the government says is responsible for nearly all the attacks near Beni over the last year.
The governor of North Kivu, Julien paluku confirmed the information
However, 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.
Eastern Congo is plagued by dozens of armed groups that prey on locals and exploit mineral reserves. Millions died there between 1996 and 2003 as a regional conflict caused hunger and disease.
Local and human rights 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.
Théogène U @Bwiza.com
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