DR Congo: Infants as Young as 6 Months ‘Chopped Up by Machetes’

Soldiers drive through the streets of Rutshuru in their cars days after clashes with the M

The army of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) confirmed on Tuesday that machete-wielding men killed at least 15 residents of a displaced persons’ camp in eastern DRC on Monday night, including infants as young as six months old, Al Jazeera reported.

DRC army spokesman Jules Ngongo Tsikudi told reporters on May 10 that a group of men believed to belong to a DRC rebel militia known as CODECO raided a displaced persons’ camp in eastern DRC’s Ituri province on the night of May 9. The assailants used machetes to hack to death more than a dozen people, most of whom were children.

The head of a DRC Red Cross branch named Ernest Dhekana told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on May 10 that “10 children aged between six months and 17 years old were among the dead. Two women and two men were also killed.”

The domestic refugee camp targeted on May 9 has provided shelter for hundreds of people fleeing various conflicts in DRC in recent months and is located near a town called Fataki in Ituri province’s Djugu region.

Jules Tsuba, the president of a civil society association in Djugu, confirmed the attack to AFP on May 10, revealing gruesome details of the murders.

“It’s shocking to see children chopped up by machetes,” he told the news agency.

AFP said it had reviewed photos of the crime scene that “showed children splayed on the ground, covered in blood.”

A monitor of violent incidents in the conflict-prone DRC called Kivu Security Tracker (KST) also confirmed the displaced persons’ camp killings outside Fataki on May 9. DRC civil society leader Dieudonne Lossa likewise confirmed the grave incident, adding that he believed CODECO was behind the barbaric attack.

The armed group, officially named the “Cooperative for the Development of the Congo (CODECO),” is a political-religious sect claiming to represent the interests of the Lendu, which is an ethnic group residing in eastern DRC’s Ituri province.

“CODECO is notorious for targeting civilians, killing 18 people at a church last month and another 60 at a displaced persons camp in February,” Al Jazeera noted on May 10.

CODECO’s night-time raid on the Plaine Savo Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Ituri province on February 1 was similar to that carried out by the militia on May 9 in that its fighters used machetes and knives to hack their victims to death. CODECO members additionally used firearms to carry out their Plaine Savo massacre on February 1, perhaps accounting for the attack’s higher death toll (62) compared to the May 9 incident near Fataki (15).

U.N. human rights spokeswoman Liz Throsselhe on February 8 described the February 1 raid of Plaine Savo IDP camp as “only the latest in a string of devastating assaults on IDP sites by CODECO, which is mainly composed of Lendu farmers.”

She further foreshadowed the May 9 violence at Fataki’s IDP camp, warning that there was a “significant risk that other IDP sites could be attacked as well.”


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