DRC: At least 50 people have been killed in two overnight attacks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s deeply troubled east, a military official and monitors said.
A local official blamed the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) which has been linked to the ISIL (ISIS) group, Military spokesman Jules Ngongo told the press that ADF fighters attacked the villages of Boga and Tchabi in the eastern Ituri region.
There is still much speculation surrounding the authors behind the assaults.
Some attribute them to rebels of the Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces who in recent months have been behind select deadly attacks in Ituri in addition to further south in North Kivu province.
Others recall that the region is marked by ethnic conflicts notably between the Nyali and Banyabwisa communities who are Congolese Hutus of Rwandan origin.
The two villages attacked about 10 km apart are on the border between North Kivu and Ituri in an area bordering Uganda where the ADF are known to be active.
However, for the two local officials mentioned above, “it is difficult to attribute these attacks to the ADF” given the brewing tensions amongst ethnic groups in the area.
A gold-rich province bordering Uganda and South Sudan, Ituri has had its share of massacres over the past three decades.
Between 1999 and 2003, the communal conflict left tens of thousands dead. Members of the Lendu and Hema communities killed each other through proxy militias until the intervention in 2003 of the European Force Artemis, under French command.
After a few years of calm, the province has seen a return to violence since December 2017 but more to the north in the territory of Djugu before also affecting the territories of Irumu, Mahagi and Aru on the eastern side of the province.
Much of the violence which has left more than 1,000 people dead and thousands displaced is blamed on members of a Mai Mai group called the Cooperative for the Development of Congo (Codeco) now split into several rival factions, Codeco claims to defend the interests of the Lendu.
As for the ADF in recent months they have increased their deadly attacks further south in the province of North Kivu but massacres have also been attributed to them in Ituri and in areas bordering North Kivu.
Originally Ugandan Muslim rebels who settled in the DRC in 1995, the ADF is by far the most deadly of the 122 armed groups identified by the KST in eastern Congo.
On 11 March, the United States listed the ADF as a “terrorist group” affiliated with the jihadists of the Islamic State (EI).