Dozens killed in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in clashes between armed forces and militias

Twelve civilians and 38 rebels have been killed in four days of fighting in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the armed forces are carrying out an offensive against militias, military and local sources said on Monday.

The clashes have taken place in Ituri province, where, in separate conflicts, the army is fighting against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a group with alleged links to the so-called Islamic State, and an ethnically-based militia called CODECO.

On Thursday, nine civilians in the Mambembe area were “massacred” by the ADF, and three more were killed in an attack on Saturday, area chief Janvier Musoki Kinyongo told AFP.

“People have fled my area. The ADF rebels are moving through the region,” he said.

In another part of Ituri, soldiers killed seven ADF agents and captured one in an offensive launched on Highway 4, about 90 kilometers (55 miles) south of the provincial capital, Bunia, the army spokesman said. Jules Ngongo.

Furthermore, the army said it had carried out a “helicopter-backed operation” against CODECO in Ituri, Djugi territory.

“Thirty-one elements of the CODECO militia (were) neutralized and several were injured, he said.

The Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) is a military-religious sect that claims to represent the Lendu ethnic group, which has a historical dispute with the Hema community.

Clashes between the two groups erupted between 1999 and 2003, claiming tens of thousands of lives before being put down by a European Union peacekeeping force, Artemis.

The violence then resumed in 2017, attributed to the rise of CODECO.

Since October, CODECO has intensified attacks in the Djugu area, bordering Lake Albert and Uganda, which lie to the east.

On Saturday, a suicide attack on a busy nightspot in Beni, in neighboring North Kivu province, claimed seven lives.

North Kivu is the epicenter of ADF attacks, which according to the Catholic Church have claimed some 6,000 deaths since 2013. The group has also been accused of a series of attacks on Ugandan soil this year.

On November 30, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda launched a joint operation against the ADF.

The ADF is historically a rebel Ugandan coalition that established itself in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1995, becoming the deadliest of dozens of outlaw forces in the troubled region.

The Islamic State group presents the ADF as its regional branch: the Islamic State Central African Province, or ISCAP.

(AFP)

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