At least 20 killed in DRC militia violence

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Fresh violence in Democratic Republic of Congo's restive northeastern Ituri province has killed at least 20 more people, the army and a local source said Monday.

Congolese soldiers clashed with raiding militia fighters from the Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) on Saturday night in the village of Kparangaza, army spokesman lieutenant Jules Ngongo said.

Nine militia fighters and three soldiers died in the violence, he told AFP, and the militia was eventually chased out of the village.

In the nearby village of Venru, CODECO militiamen shot and hacked to death eight others, a tribal chief said.

"The victims were a man, two women and the rest were children," chief Jean-Richard Ehnakondo told AFP.

Local official Desire Malo said the "situation was worrying" in Venru still on Monday, as it remained a target.

CODECO is an armed political-religious sect drawn from the Lendu ethnic group.

Conflict erupted between the Lendu, mainly farmers, and the Hema, herders and traders, in the gold-mining and oil-rich province between 1999 to 2003, killing tens of thousands.

According to the UN, most victims were targeted because they were Hema.

The conflict has reignited and more than 700 people have been killed in Ituri since late 2017, a UN report said in January, adding that some of deaths might constitute a "crime against humanity."

#More than half a million people have been displaced by the violence since February 2018, the report said.

On Friday, 24 people were killed during attacks near Djugu, which lies in an eastern part of Ituri near Lake Albert.

Authorities nonetheless celebrated the same day the signing of a peace agreement with an armed group in the south of the province, the FRPI (Patriotic Resistance Forces in Ituri), which has been active in the area for two decades.

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