The Congolese army said on Monday that it had killed sixteen militiamen in offensives against an armed group responsible for the massacres of more than a hundred civilians in a month in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The offensive against the armed group Codeco (Cooperative for the development of the Congo) began on Friday. « Just yesterday (Sunday), we killed sixteen militiamen and captured three others, » General Amuli Chiviri, army chief in northeast Ituri province, told AFP. ).
The military operation launched on Friday targeted the strongholds of the Codeco armed group in the villages of Ngongo (territory of Djugu) and Lipri (territory of Irumu), both located 40 km from Bunia, capital of the gold province from Ituri.
« We have just intensified the offensives and extended them to the villages of Rety and Nyangarayi » in Djugu territory, said the officer.
The Codeco militia, made up of members of the Lendu community gathered in a sort of politico-military-religious sect, is accused by the authorities of having massacred 160 civilians in June and caused the exodus of more than 300,000 people in the territory of Djugu.
« To dislodge these attackers who commit acts of violence against the population in this region is the only objective pursued by the army, » said General Amuli Chiviri, who invited these fighters « to surrender » to the Armed Forces of the DRC.
Ituri is one of three provinces in eastern DRC plagued by violence where the military is carrying out military operations against armed groups.
Between 1999 and 2003, this region, rich in gold, had been bloodied by a conflict between the Hema (traders and breeders) and Lendu (farmers) communities. Tens of thousands of deaths were then recorded, until the intervention of the European force Artémis, under French command.