UN peacekeepers find mass graves in DRC amid surge in militia violence

January 19 (UPI) — UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo have found mass graves containing the bodies of 49 civilians in the northeastern province of the African country, where officials say residents face daily violence from militias.

Farhan HaqDeputy Press Secretary of the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterresannounced a terrible discovery to journalists during press conference Wednesday, saying the bodies were found in two mass graves in Ituri province.

The bodies of 42 civilians, including 12 women and six children, were found in Nyamamba village, while a second mass grave containing the bodies of seven men was found in Mbogi village. Both villages are about 19 miles east of the provincial capital, Bunia.

The bodies were found amid a spike in violence between Landu farmers and traditional Hema herders.

The two sides have been at war for decades but enjoyed relative calm until 2017, when renewed fighting fueled by historical anger intensified after control of Ituri’s vast mineral wealth, including gold, the UN refugee agency said in report on Tuesday.

Haq said the security situation in the province has worsened recently, with at least 195 civilians killed and 68 injured, and 84 people abducted since December, with CODECO and Zairean militias blamed for a number of incidents.

CODECO is a coalition of Landu militias and Zaire is mainly made up of members of the Hema community.

Haq said peacekeepers began patrolling the region where the bodies were found after receiving reports of attacks on civilians by the CODECO militia over the weekend.

The UN refugee agency said in a recent report that people in Ituri are being attacked by militias on a daily basis. On January 8, at least 25 people, including five children, were killed in an attack by armed groups on several villages in the province.

In February last year, about 62 people of the Khem ethnic community were killed CODECO in the province, months after it carried out four attacks in November that killed 58 people. UN peacekeepers find mass graves in DRC amid surge in militia violence

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