Jihadists kill six civilians in DR Congo: local leader

Six people were killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a local source said on Thursday, in the latest attack blamed on jihadists thought to have killed almost 750 civilians in four months.

The five men and one woman were killed by Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) late Wednesday in Beni territory, North Kivu province, said Roger Mumbere Wangeve, a prominent civil society leader.

Three other people were wounded, he said, accusing the army of failing to intervene to prevent the killing. The death toll of six was also put forward by the former governor of North Kivu, Carly Nzanzu Kasivita, on Twitter. 

North Kivu and neighbouring Ituri have been under a state of siege since May in an effort to stop the activities of armed groups, including the ADF. 

Military and police officers have replaced civilian authorities as heads of these provinces. 

But “the massacres continue despite the state of siege,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) said, adding that “at least 739 civilians have been killed” in these two provinces. 

“The number of civilians killed in the attacks has largely remained unchanged,” the US-based rights watchdog said.

“Although the government tries to portray its actions as military successes, many people in eastern DR Congo still live in constant fear of the next massacre,” said Thomas Fessy, senior researcher on the DRC at HRW. 

From May 6 to September 10, “various armed groups — some of which remain unidentified — killed at least 672 civilians, and Congolese security forces killed 67 others in Ituri and North Kivu provinces,” HRW wrote in a statement, citing data from the Kivu Security Barometer, a joint initiative of HRW and the Congo Study Group. 

Of the more than 100 armed groups active in eastern DRC, the ADF is said to be the most deadly. Originally Ugandan Muslim rebels, they are now portrayed by the Islamic State (IS) group as its branch in central Africa.