Fighters from the CODECO rebel group have killed at least 14 people in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, local and army sources said on Tuesday, the latest attack blamed on the militia in the troubled region.
The Cooperative for the Development of the Congo (CODECO) is one of several armed groups active in eastern DRC following regional wars that erupted in the late 1990s and 2000s.
Accused of ethnic killings, it comprises several thousand fighters and claims to protect the Lendu community from a rival ethnic group, the Hema, as well as the Congolese army.
CODECO militiamen arrived in the Shaba mining area where “they killed 14 people,” Issa Atsidri, a civil society leader in the Aru territory, told AFP.
Another 10 people were injured and others were missing, he added.
Congolese army spokesman Jules Ngongo said he was “informed of this attack by CODECO-URDPC militiamen in Shaba… with a toll of 14 deaths and eight wounded.”
Jacques Uguzi Amopi, a senior member of a local youth association, said 15 bodies including three women were found and collected by relatives.
The motivation for the attack remained unknown, said Atsidri.
CODECO-URDPC, a splinter group based on a religious sect, denied the accusations.
On Sunday, 15 people in northeastern DRC were killed in an attack attributed to CODECO.
After a decade of calm, the conflict between the Hema and Lendu communities in Ituri province rekindled in 2017, resulting in thousands of civilian deaths and forcing more than 1.5 million people from their homes, according to the United Nations.
Ituri and neighboring North Kivu province have been under a state of siege since May 2021, allowing the army and police to take over powers from civilian authorities.
The measure has failed to stem the violence, and residents of the two provinces called for it to be lifted following a recent assessment meeting held in the capital Kinshasa.