Militants killed at least 19 people, including 10 soldiers, in raids on two villages in the east of Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday, hours after President Felix Tshisekedi declared a state of siege in two provinces.
A surge in attacks by armed militias and inter-communal violence in the east have killed more than 300 people since the start of the year as government troops and UN peacekeepers struggle to stabilize the situation.
The latest violence took place early on Saturday morning when militants raided two villages in North Kivu’s regional hub of Beni, local authorities said.
Tshisekedi had declared a state of siege in North Kivu and Ituri provinces on Friday.
“The objective is to swiftly end the insecurity which is killing our fellow citizens in that part of the country on a daily basis,” government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said.
He did not say what steps would be taken next under the state of siege.
On Friday armed police in Beni dispersed students who were staging an eight-day sit-in at the town hall to draw attention to the worsening security situation. Several students were wounded and others were arrested, according to a Reuters witness.
A Ugandan insurgent faction active in eastern Congo since the 1990s called the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) is believed to be responsible for much of the recent bloodshed.
It has carried out a spate of reprisal attacks on civilians since the army began operations against it in late 2019, killing around 850 people last year, according to United Nations figures.
The violence has fueled a humanitarian crisis with more than 1.6 million people displaced in Ituri out of a total population of 5.7 million people, UNICEF said in April. Some 2.8 million people there are in need of some form of emergency assistance, it said.
Appeal for ‘fresh start’ as Nile dam talks kick off in DR CongoForeign ministers from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan kicked off negotiations in Kinshasa on Sunday over Addis Ababa’s contested giant dam on the Nile, ... Middle East
DR Congo starts 42-day countdown to end of Ebola outbreak in eastThe Democratic Republic of Congo, where the deadly Ebola virus first emerged in 1976, has begun a countdown to the official end of its latest outbreak ... World News
13 killed in eastern DR Congo attacks blamed on ADF militiaThirteen people have died in attacks in the eastern DR Congo region of Beni, local officials and experts said on Wednesday, blaming a notorious ... World News
Militia kills dozens of civilians in retaliatory attack in eastern DR CongoThirty-eight civilians have been killed by a notorious armed group in eastern DR Congo since Friday, a UN source told AFP, while local sources said ... World News