Goma, DR Congo | AFP | Twenty-nine people have been killed in three days of clashes between rival factions of a militia group in a village in Democratic Republic of Congo’s restive east, an official said Friday.
The two factions are fighting for control of the village of Bweru in North Kivu province, a region plagued by regular flare-ups of ethnic bloodshed.
“Since Wednesday two factions of the Mai-Mai Nyatura have been fighting for control of the village. The death toll on Friday is 29 people dead,” a local administrator, Dieudonne Tshishiku, told AFP.
“The clashes are still going on. Bweru and neighbouring villages have emptied of their populations,” Tshishiku said, urging the Congolese military to intervene to end the violence and let civilians return to their homes.
An NGO official speaking on condition of anonymity said the 29 dead included at least 11 militia fighters but added that the dead could also include civilians.
The Mai-Mai Nyatura is a “self-defence” militia made up of people from the Hutu ethnic group who are in the majority around Bweru.
Other ethnic groups in the area, including the Nande people, regard Hutus as foreigners, leading to rivalries and violence over land and resources.
For more than a year, a cycle of attacks and reprisals between Hutu and Nande militias has stoked tensions in North Kivu, which like the rest of eastern Congo has been torn apart by over 20 years of conflict.
In one recent bloody attack, Nande militiamen killed 25 Hutu civilians in February — almost all of them hacked to death with machetes.
Political tension has been mounting across the vast but troubled country since December, when President Joseph Kabila’s second and final term officially ended but elections were not held.
Though rich in mineral wealth and water, Congo has long been one of the Africa’s poorest nations and rising unrest has only deepened the economic malaise.