A notorious militia chief has been killed in Democratic Republic of Congo along with six of his men in a military operation in volatile northeastern Ituri province, the army said on Tuesday, January 22.
The operation took place as the country prepares to swear in Felix Tshisekedi as its new president following a disputed election that will see Joseph Kabila step down after 18 years in power.
“We attacked a Mai-Mai Simba position overnight, and neutralized seven militiamen, including their leader Manu,” army spokesperson Lieutenant Jules Tshikudi in Ituri province told AFP.
The incident happened in the town of Pembele in Mambasa territory, west of the regional capital Bunia.
Eastern DR Congo is known for its instability, with the government struggling to contain militia violence, tit-for-tat killings and a recent Ebola outbreak that has left more than 400 dead since August last year.
“The people are happy to hear about the death of Manu, a rebel leader who made us suffer,” said Mambasa administrator Idris Lokodila, confirming the deaths.
Manu, whose real name is unknown, succeeded Paul Sadala, alias Morgan, whose militia regularly clashed with the Congolese army until he was killed in 2014.
“Mai-Mai” refers to any number of active community armed groups in DR Congo, and Mai-Mai Simba describes several armed groups in the region.
Dozens of armed groups compete for control of eastern DR Congo’s vast deposits of minerals, including gold, diamonds, copper and coltan.
The army also said on Tuesday that it had repulsed an assault by attackers on one of its position in Largu, north of Bunia.
A source in local civil society told AFP they had “seen four military corpses” and “nine others in the hospital.”
With reporting from AFP