Civil society groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo say more than four dozen people were hacked to death in the country’s restive east over the weekend. The fatalities occurred during clashes between police and militia groups in and around the troubled town of Beni, located in North Kivu province.
“Our team on the ground has counted 51 bodies slain with machetes,” said Teddy Kataliko, a member of a local alliance of NGOs and unions working in Beni, adding that the death toll could rise as the search was still going on.
Local authorities said 42 people had lost their lives in Saturday night’s mass killing. The DR Congo army has blamed Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels for the deadly attacks.
Mak Hazukay, the army spokesman, said that the rebels had “bypassed” army positions “to come and massacre the population in revenge” for military operations in the area. Three days of national mourning has been declared in the Central African country.
The killings took place three days after DR Congo’s President Joseph Kabila visited the volatile region, promising to do everything in his power to restore peace and security. The ADF rebel group has been in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo for two decades.
It has been accused of committing serious human rights violations, including recruiting child soldiers and rape, against local population. The Congolese army, joined by UN troops, is on the offensive against the ADF and other rebel groups.