Raiders killed at least 35 people in an attack on a gold mine in Ituri, in the strife-torn northeast of Democratic Republic (DR) of Congo, local sources said Sunday.
One local official, Jean-Pierre Bikilisende, of the rural Mungwalu settlement in Djugu, Ituri, said the CODECO militia had carried out the attack on the artisanal mine.
Bikilisende said the militia had attacked the Camp Blanquette gold mine and that 29 bodies had been retrieved, while another six burnt bodies had been found buried at the site.
Among the dead was a four-month-old baby, he added.
“This is a provisional toll,” he said, as there had been other people killed whose bodies had been thrown down the mine shafts. Several other civilians had been reported missing, he said. “The search continues.”
Camp Blanquette was set up in a forest, far from the nearest military outpost, so help came too late, said Bikilisende.
Cherubin Kukundila, a civil leader in Mungwalu, said that at least 50 people had been killed in the raid. Several people had been wounded, nine of them seriously. They were being treated at Mungwalu hospital, he told AFP.
The Camp Blanquette mine lies seven kilometres (four miles) from Mungwalu.
CODECO has been blamed for a number of ethnic massacres in the province of Ituri.
Twelve civilians and 38 rebels have died in four days of fighting in northeast DR Congo, where the armed forces were carrying out a crackdown on militias, military and local sources said on Monday.
The clashes have taken place in Ituri province, where in separate conflicts the army was battling the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) — a group with suspected links to the so-called Islamic State — and an ethnic-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, the area’s chief, Janvier Musoki Kinyongo, told AFP.
“People have fled my area. ADF rebels are moving about the region,” he said.
In another part of Ituri, soldiers killed seven ADF operatives and captured one in an offensive launched on Highway 4, about 90 kilometres (55 miles) south of provincial capital, Bunia, army spokesman, Jules Ngongo, has said. -AFP