The death toll in a suspected militia attack has risen to seven, an army spokesperson told AFP on Friday, February 8 after armed men attacked civilians and a military position in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo city of Beni.
The attackers raided the city’s southern district of Rwangoma overnight, said regional spokesperson Major Mak Hazukay, who updated the previous toll of five dead.
“We have unfortunately found two other bodies,” he said.
“These two civilians were killed with machetes. The attack was carried out by the ADF,” Hazukay said.
The ADF militia was created in 1995 by Ugandan Muslim rebels to oppose the government after they were forced out of Uganda by the army.
“Fighting is under way. ADF are attempting an incursion in the city of Oisha [north of Beni] and in Mbau-Kamango they attacked an army position,” said Hazukay.
Local resident Kizito Bin Hangi said that the assailants had wielded machetes and guns and that residents, outraged by the killings, demonstrated afterwards.
More than a hundred armed groups, both local and foreign, are active in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Hundreds of civilians have died in the Beni area alone in the last five years.
The ADF operates in the border area in the DRC’s North Kivu province, an area where other armed groups are also active. The government has often blamed the ADF for killings, robberies and kidnappings, but numerous other armed groups operate in the region and sometimes it is unclear who the true assailants are.
The ADF is thought to have killed at least 700 civilians and more than 20 United Nations peacekeepers.
The ADF was blamed for the deaths of 17 people who were killed in two attacks in Beni region on December 7 and for killing nine people in an attack in Oicha on December 11.
Newly-elected President Felix Tshisekedi promised while on the campaign trail to restore security to the troubled region.
On Friday he reiterated that pledge while on a visit to neighboring Republic of Congo, also known as Congo-Brazzaville.
“My priority is peace. We can not run this country with insecurity in the east and other areas,” Tshisekedi said in Brazzaville, according to radio Okapi.
On January 29, three militia leaders, including one accused of murdering 39 police officers, surrendered in a show of support for Tshisekedi, days after 600 other rebels laid down their arms.
With reporting from AFP