Armed groups kill 14 in DR Congo’s troubled east

Armed groups kill 14 in DR Congo’s troubled east

Armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have killed at least 14 people during overnight attacks in the country’s troubled east, the army and local officials say.

Captain Guillaume Ndjike, the DRC’s army spokesman, said on Monday that the fatalities occurred during multiple attacks which were carried out overnight against both civilians and military positions in the country’s eastern province of North Kivu.

Ndjike blamed the deadly assaults on Mai-Mai militiamen and Rwandan Hutu rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) operating actively in the troubled region.

The army spokesman said seven people were shot dead or hacked to death with machetes in the town of Kibirizi, located about 85 kilometers northeast of the capital, Goma.

Another four civilians were killed in Kashalira while a soldier and a civilian lost their life in Kahunga, he said, referring to two towns in the Rutshuru territory situated in the southern part of North Kivu.

Local reports said a young Hutu rebel was also shot dead by Mai-Mai fighters in the attacks.

Ndjike said some 150 houses were also set on fire by the assailants.

Congo has been facing numerous problems over the past few decades such as grinding poverty, crumbling infrastructure and a war in the east of the country which has dragged on since 1998.

The Rwandan FDLR, a Hutu group based in eastern DRC, is seeking the overthrow of the Tutsi-led government in Kigali.

The rebel group includes several people wanted internationally in connection with the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, which left at least 800,000 people dead, mainly from the Tutsi minority.

The rebels are also accused of carrying out attacks in neighboring DRC and committing serious human rights violations, including recruiting child soldiers and rape.

In February 2015, the DRC army launched an offensive to flush out the FDLR rebels from the areas where they have been wreaking havoc for more than two decades.