Massacre fears in DRC gold mine attack

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By PARTICK ILUNGA

A militia attack has left at least 40 civilians dead in Ituri province in northeastern Congo.

Local sources say more than 100 people are missing after Sunday’s alleged massacre by the armed group Cooperative for the Development of Congo (Codeco) in Mongwalu territory.

The rebels have targeted an artisanal gold mine in the province and it is feared that the missing miners have been killed.

“The enemy, the Codeco militia, stormed the town of Kablangete, located seven kilometers from Mongwalu in the Banyali Kilo sector of the mine site, and unleashed unspeakable terror,” said Jean-Pierre Bikilisende, mayor. from Mongwalu.

“For the moment, the provisional toll is at least 40 dead and more than 100 civilians missing and several properties looted by the rebels.”

The assailants, he said, struck after taking advantage of the absence of military personnel in the area over the weekend.

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“We condemn this massacre of civilians. It is a criminal act that must not go unpunished,” he added.

The villagers fled the territory, fearing further attacks from the armed group.

Codeco, also known as the Congo Economic Development Cooperative, is an informal association of various Lendu militia groups operating in DR Congo.

The group, variously described as an armed politico-religious sect, was once a peaceful agricultural cooperative before morphing into an armed rebel movement.

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Several of the militias that claim affiliation with Codeco, which declared a unilateral ceasefire in August 2020, are accused of massacres and war crimes by the United Nations.

The troubled province of Ituri has been under siege for more than a year now and the Congolese (FARDC) and Ugandan (UPDF) armies have been carrying out joint operations there since late November 2021.

Despite the operations, recurrent attacks by militias and rebel groups claim civilian casualties almost every week.

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