Death toll rises to 41 in attack on eastern Congo villages

BENI, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) – The death toll has risen to 41 following an attack on Friday by suspected Islamist rebels on villages in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a spokesman Congolese army spokesman said.

The attack had been carried out by members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), said lieutenant-colonel Mak Hazukay, an army spokesman in Congo’s North Kivu province.

The ADF which is now based in eastern Congo, has pledged allegiance to Islamic State and mounts frequent attacks, further destabilising a region where many militant groups are active.

It originates from neighbouring Uganda and is alleged to be behind another assault that killed at least 16 people this week.

Armed men had used guns and machetes to attack residents of villages in Beni territory overnight on Friday, local official Fabien Kakule told Reuters.

Vusindi Nick Junior, a local civil society leader, said a local health centre had been set ablaze and nine people injured in addition to the 41 killed.

“Several dozen civilians have been victims of the ADF in eastern DRC in recent days. Terrorist groups are taking advantage of the chaos to expand their hold on an already very unstable region,” said EU foreign affairs spokeswoman Nabila Massrali.

“Urgent need to accelerate efforts to find a political solution,” she added.

Julien Paluku, a former governor of North Kivu, said on X that Congo’s national government needed to do more to address insecurity in the east. The government has not yet made any statement on the attack. A government spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

“People have the impression, rightly or wrongly, of being abandoned to their sad fate,” he said.

(Reporting by Erikas Mwisi Kambale and Ange Kasongo in Kinshasa; Writing by Portia Crowe; Editing by Alexander Smith)


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