Over 40 individuals lost their lives in a series of attacks on villages in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) on Friday, according to local sources.
The Cooperative for the Development of the Congo (CODECO), a militant group, has been blamed for the violence, which occurred in at least three villages in Ituri province, approximately 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the provincial capital of Bunia.
CODECO is among the numerous armed groups operating in the volatile and resource-rich region. The militia claims to protect the Lendu community against the Hema ethnic group and the national army.
“In Kilo Etat, we discovered 36 bodies, in Matete eight, and I do not yet have a confirmed number for Itendy,” stated Innocent Matukadala, a regional administrator, in an interview with AFP.
He added that the CODECO militants carried out the attacks around 0500 GMT, with the DR Congo army responding approximately three hours later. Robert Basiloko, a civil society leader in the same district, provided a provisional death toll of 43 individuals, including five children.
“The incessant loss of life is unbearable. We are weary,” lamented Basiloko.
Eastern Congo has been plagued by numerous armed groups, many of which are remnants of regional conflicts that erupted in the 1990s and 2000s. Ituri province remains a hotspot for violence, with frequent attacks resulting in significant loss of life.