DRC: 17 hostages executed by CODECO in the northeast
Seventeen people taken hostage the day before in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo were executed on Sunday by the community militia CODECO (Cooperative for the Development of Congo).
On Saturday, at least “17 people had been taken hostage by CODECO militiamen between the Bambu and Kobu villages”, in the territory of Djugu, about 45 km north of Bunia (Ituri province), declared to AFP Banguneni Gbalande, head of the Akongo-Nyali community where the facts took place.
These people were in two vehicles travelling from Bunia, the provincial capital, to the mining town of Mongbwalu when their convoy was ambushed, he explained.
On Sunday, these hostages were “executed in Pechi village, CODECO stronghold”, he said, indicating that he had been “alert by the families of some victims of Mongbwalu”. The “hostages died, they were executed by CODECO militiamen”, confirmed AFP Toko Kagbanese, another local traditional leader.
A resident of Bambu told AFP that the hostage-taking took place after the death of three CODECO militiamen who fell in an ambush by a rival militia in this locality. A pregnant woman was among the hostages, said the source, who did not wish to be identified for security reasons.
Since the end of 2022, the deaths have been counted in the dozens almost every week in Ituri, a province rich in gold.
More than thirty people, including many women and children, were massacred on March 18 in several villages. The CODECO militiamen were accused of this killing.
The CODECO is a militia of several thousand men which claims to protect the Lendu tribe against a rival tribe, the Hema, defended by another militia, the “Zaire”.
After a decade of lull, the deadly conflict in Ituri between Hema and Lendu resumed at the end of 2017, causing the flight of more than one and a half million people and the death of thousands of civilians. The previous conflict between community militias caused thousands of deaths between 1999 and 2003, until the intervention of a European force, Operation Artemis , under French command.