Five men and a child were killed in an overnight attack blamed on the Allied Democratic Forces militia near the eastern DR Congo city of Beni, cut off because of the coronavirus pandemic, local sources said Tuesday, April 7.
The attack occurred in Halungupa, some 30 km (18 miles) from Beni in North Kivu province, local official John Kambale Sibendire told AFP.
The local police chief confirmed the attack.
In a measure aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, the region’s main three cities of Beni, Goma and Butembo have been cut off from the rest of North Kivu.
The region, torn by armed conflict for the past 25 years, has fought an Ebola epidemic – the DR Congo’s 10th – since August 2018.
If no further Ebola cases emerge, the epidemic is set to be declared over on April 12, after claiming more than 2,200 lives.
Of the 180 cases of coronavirus recorded in the DR Congo so far, including 18 deaths, at least one case was detected in Beni.
Attacks on civilians by the ADF, accused of having massacred more than 1,000 civilians since October 2014, have decreased in recent weeks.
November last year saw an upsurge of attacks, with ADF fighters killing civilians in reprisal for army operations launched against them in October.
Experts say nearly 400 have been killed since then.
The ADF began as an Islamist-rooted rebel group in Uganda that opposed President Yoweri Museveni.
It then fell back to North Kivu, DR Congo’s border province with Uganda, during the Congo Wars of the 1990s.
Last April, Islamic State formally recognized its Central Africa Province in Democratic Republic of Congo, when its centrally controlled media outlets began to attribute attacks to ISCAP, and during his first video appearance in five years, the late ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was seen viewing a document entitled “Wilayat Central Africa.”
There was earlier evidence that ISIS had ties to the Allied Democratic Forces, but it is unclear if the new ISIS affiliate is the ADF, a splinter group, or a different organization.
According to U.N. report published in February, several member states believe that the ISIS affiliate in Somalia’s Puntland state is now the command centre for “affiliates in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mozambique and is in charge of loose networks of supporters of the affiliates.”
With reporting from AFP