20 killed in DRC violence, including wildlife park

2018-05-22 15:02
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Twenty people have been killed in a flareup of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), including a fresh attack in the renowned Virunga National Park, officials said Monday.

Ten people were killed in the eastern DRC by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia, said Jonas Kibwana, administrator of the Beni region in North Kivu province.

"The ADF attacked the town of Mbau... 10 civilians were shot dead and two others were wounded," Kibwana told AFP, giving a toll confirmed separately by sources in the armed forces and civil society.

Eastern DRC has been wracked by violence since the mid-1990s. The ADF - created by Muslim radicals to oppose the rule of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni - is one of a number of armed groups fighting over the region's rich mineral resources.

It stands accused of killing hundreds of civilians over the years and of carrying out a deadly attack on UN troops in Beni last December that left 15 peacekeepers dead.

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Also in North Kivu, two soldiers and a civilian were killed on Monday when armed men attacked a convoy in the Virunga National Park, one of the most important conservation sites in the world.

The two soldiers were escorting a large convoy of two trucks and 21 motorcycles, said Kakule Silusawa, a senior administrative official in Kibirizi district.

The attack came just 10 days after a park guard was killed and two British tourists and their Congolese driver were kidnapped, in an attack that prompted the park's authorities to suspend tourist visits until June 4.

The three were freed after two days. The British pair were unharmed, while the driver was injured.

Wildlife haven

Established in 1925, Virunga is home to about a quarter of the world's population of critically endangered mountain gorillas, as well as to eastern lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, okapis, lions, elephants and hippos.

Seven people were meanwhile killed and 11 injured in a separate attack early Monday in a village in the troubled central Kasai region, a local official told AFP.

"Armed men close to militia chief Kalamba Dilondo last night infiltrated Matopolo village and killed seven people, using shotguns," said local administrator Jacob Pembelongo, adding all those who died were ethnic Mpiang.

Pembelongo said the 700 inhabitants of the village, 220km north of regional capital Kananga, fled to the bush, adding troops had been dispatched to the area.

An army officer who would not give his name said the death toll was provisional, blaming the atack on militia from the Kete community close to Dilondo.

The security situation is volatile in a region where militia loyal to Dilondo have been wreaking terror, according to eyewitness accounts.

Troops arrested Dilondo in March but he returned to his village earlier this month accompanied by the Kasai governor aboard a UN helicopter.

Kasai has been wracked by violence leading to more than 3,000 deaths since the August 2016 killing of militia chief Kamuina Nsapu.

Around 1.4 million people were displaced in the year following his death.

Read more on:    drc  |  central africa

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