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12 Killed in Rebel Attack in DR Congo’s Ituri Province

Twelve people — one soldier and 11 mainly elderly civilians — were killed in a rebel attack in DR Congo’s troubled northeasterly province of Ituri, hospital sources and local authorities said on Thursday.

“We have received 11 bodies of civilian victims of a massacre in the Lopa region at Djugu. There was also the body of one soldier,” John Katabuka, director of the main regional hospital, told AFP.

“CODECO militants attacked the village of Tshotsho Wednesday night into Thursday morning. They killed 11 civilians with machetes and guns — a woman and elderly people,” local official Gedeon Dino told AFP.

The CODECO group — Cooperative for the Development of Congo — is one of a swathe of rebel groups in the violence-wracked country and local sources said their latest killing spree came in apparent reprisal for an attack on them by the military.

“These militants attacked peaceful citizens as they were fleeing military fire,” army spokesman Lieutenant Jules Ngongo told AFP.

The village of Tshotsho is some 30 kilometers (18 miles) from the main Ituri province town of Bunia.

The CODECO is a notorious ethnic militia and political-religious sect that claims to represent the interests of the Lendu ethnic group.

The Lendu and Hema communities have a long-standing feud that led to thousands of deaths between 1999 and 2003 before intervention by a European peacekeeping force.

Violence then resumed in 2017, blamed on the emergence of CODECO.

The provinces of Ituri and North Kivu were placed under a state of siege in May with local authorities replaced by army officers and police but the violence has continued unabated.

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