Islamic State-linked rebels kill 15 villagers in DR Congo: local sources

Islamic State-linked rebels kill 15 villagers in DR Congo: local sources
At least 15 have been shot or hacked to death in the Democratic Republic of Congo in two separate attacks sources blamed on Islamist rebels the US says are linked to the Islamic State group.
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The two deadly attacks have been blamed on the Allied Democratic Forces [SEBASTIEN KITSA MUSAYI/AFP/Getty-file photo]

At least 15 villagers have been killed in two days of attacks attributed to Islamist rebels near Beni in the Democratic Republic of Congo's conflict-plagued east, local representatives said on Friday.

The first attack left at least ten dead, including five women, in Mbingi village said Kinos Kathuho, head of a civil society group in neighbouring Mamove.

Four people were also injured, he added.

The second attack, on Friday morning, took place just a kilometre from the first at Mapasana, according to local leader Omar Kalisya.

Five people were killed in that village, he said with several others reported missing.

Houses were torched and shops pillaged, Kalisya added.

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In both cases the victims were hacked or shot to death and the sources blamed the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which the US says is linked to the Islamic State group.

"The situation is serious," Kalisya warned, with residents complaining of a lack of military security in the region, three months after President Felix Tshisekedi proclaimed a state of siege in North Kivu province, which includes Beni, and neighbouring Ituri province.

Tshisekedi resorted on 6 May to the strongest measure he could take under the constitution, in a bid to end the endemic insecurity in the east where massacres and clashes involving armed groups have prevailed since the end of the Second Congo War in 2003.

The DRC's Catholic Church says the ADF, originally a group of Ugandan Islamist rebels, has killed around 6,000 civilians since 2013.

At least 2,000 DRC soldiers have been killed fighting against rebel forces in the east since 2014, the army said on Friday.

Colonel Sylvain Ekenge, military spokesman in the unstable North Kivu and South Kivu provinces, told reporters "at least 2,000 soldiers have fallen in the Beni area since October 2014", when the shadowy Islamist-rooted group began targeting the area.

"Having peace right away is an illusion," Ekenge said. "But we are going to impose peace."

An estimated 122 armed groups roam the resource-rich east of the vast nation, many of them legacies of two bloody regional wars in the 1990s, according to a US-based monitor, the Kivu Security Tracker (KST).

The first civilian massacre by jihadists in Beni, North Kivu, occurred on 15 October 2014, when 32 people were killed, according to a witness.