Militia fighters killed 16 people in a raid on a village in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday, the latest in a spate of ethnic attacks that the United Nations has said could be crimes against humanity.
The CODECO militia, mostly drawn from the Lendu ethnic group, assaulted the village of Moussa, which is home mainly to ethnic Hema, in Ituri province in the early hours of Wednesday, said Henry Juga Trilo, an administrative official.
He said they killed four men, six women and six girls and stole several goats. An army spokesman and a UN source confirmed the attack on the village, 60 km northeast of the city of Bunia and near the border with Uganda.
Last week the United Nations warned that killings, beheadings, rape and other barbaric acts committed by CODECO may constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Since June 2018, hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes in Ituri province, bringing the number of displaced people to more than 1.2 million.
Rich in natural resources, Ituri experienced some of the country’s most vicious fighting between 1999 and 2007, after a power struggle between rebel groups descended into ethnic bloodshed, mostly between the Hema and Lendu communities.
After a decade of relative calm, tit-for-tat fighting resumed in December 2017, reviving longstanding tensions over land. The unrest has since evolved into more coordinated attacks by the CODECO militia on the army and the Hema group.
Fighting by an array of armed groups in the region has complicated Congo’s response to outbreaks of Ebola and the coronavirus.