IS group claims to have killed more than 35 ‘Christians’ in Congo
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for more than 35 people dead and dozens injured in eastern Congo
Dakar, Senegal — The Islamic State group has released a statement claiming responsibility for killing more than 35 people and wounding dozens in eastern Congo.
In the statement, published Friday by Aamaq, the militants’ news agency, he said he killed “Christians” with guns and knives and destroyed their property in the village of Mukondi in North Kivu province. He also posted a photo of the burning houses.
The announcement comes after local authorities confirmed that at least 45 people were killed last week in several attacks on different villages by rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces, a militia linked to IS.
Conflict has been simmering in eastern Congo for decades as more than 120 armed groups fight for power, influence and resources, and some to protect their communities. The ADF has been largely active in North Kivu province, but has recently expanded its operations into neighboring Ituri province and areas near the regional capital, Goma.
Efforts to stem the violence against the ADF have yielded little. A nearly year-long joint operation by the Ugandan and Congolese armies did not achieve the expected results of defeating or substantially weakening the group, according to a December report by a UN group of experts. . ADF rebels are accused by the UN and rights groups of mutilating, raping and abducting civilians, including children. Earlier this month, the United States offered a reward of up to $5 million for information that could lead to the capture of the group’s leader, Seka Musa Baluku.
On Thursday, AP journalists saw bodies lowered into a mass grave in Mukondi. Community members shoveled dirt over the bodies against the backdrop of destroyed homes and said the government was not doing enough to protect them.
“As you see in Mukondi, it’s always the same. ADF, which is always ill-intentioned against the Congolese,” said Colonel Charles Ehuta Omeonga, military administrator for the Beni region. “We lost a lot of our brothers,” he said.
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Congo has condemned the killings and is urging Congolese authorities to investigate and bring those responsible to justice.
Associated Press reporter Maamoun Youssef contributed from Cairo.