Machete-wielding attackers killed at least 14 civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s restive North Kivu province, a local official said Sunday, October 7, the latest in a wave of violence plaguing the mineral-rich region.
Nine other people were injured in the assault near the village of Rubaya some 60 km (35 miles) north of the province’s capital Goma, regional governor Cosmas Kangakolo told AFP.
He said a battalion of the Congolese army and police officers had been dispatched to Rubaya.
“The attackers arrived in my neighbourhood. I hid but two neighbours were killed by machetes,” local resident Pascal said.
An armed Hutu militia known as the Mai-Mai Nyatura has been operating in the Masisi territory, where Rubaya is located.
The region is a hub for mining coltan, a key component in cell phones and other electronic equipment.
Short for columbite-tantalites and known industrially as tantalite, coltan is an ore from which the elements niobium and tantalum are extracted.
Tantalum is used in batteries for electric cars, but it is primarily and widely used in capacitors for electronic products. Niobium is used in various superconducting materials, as well as in the nuclear industry, for electronics, optics, and in other applications.
Coltan is also used to make high-temperature alloys for rocket engines, jet engines and other turbines.
For more than 20 years, North and South Kivu provinces have been in the grip of inter-ethnic bloodshed between militia groups, which often extort money from civilians or fight each other for control of mineral resources.
The violence in the border region sees near-daily killings, rape, mutilations and other atrocities.
The latest attack came after Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his dedication in helping women overcome the injuries and trauma of sexual abuse and rape in South Kivu province.
He was also part of an international campaign calling on multinational companies to control their supply chain to ensure they are not buying so-called “blood minerals”, which fuel the violence in eastern DRC.
With reporting from AFP