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Nine killed in DR Congo's Ituri after weeks of calm

Nine women and children have been killed in northeastern DR Congo after weeks of relative calm following peace negotiations with a notorious armed group, sources said Tuesday.

Five women and four children were killed in Ituri province's Djugu territory on Monday night, local civil society head Jules Tsuba told AFP, while the UN radio station Okapi put the death toll as three women and six children.

Three other women were seriously injured and taken to hospital by Bangladeshi troops in the UN peacekeeping force, the sources said.

The attacks were attributed to fighters from the Cooperation for the Development of Congo (CODECO), an armed political-religious sect linked to more than a thousand deaths in Djugu since December 2017.

Experts say CODECO brings together several sects of militia fighters who claim to defend the rights of ethnic Lendu farming communities.

The rate of attacks in Ituri has dropped significantly in recent weeks after President Felix Tshisekedi sent a delegation of former warlords to the province in August to negotiate peace with CODECO.

Several factions of CODECO, which does not have have a unified leadership, have since agreed to suspend attacks on ethnic rivals.

But the militia has been divided for several months, with some fighters shunning the agreement.

Conflict erupted between ethnic Lendu herders and Hema traders in the mineral-rich province between 1999 and 2003, killing tens of thousands.

Separately, the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) said Tuesday it would stop its activities in a territory in the eastern province of South Kivu because of poor security.

"MSF has taken the difficult decision of ending its support for supplying medical care in Kimbi and Baraka, in Fizi territory," the group said in a statement.

The decision "follows several violent incidents against the organisation in 2020," it said. An expatriate worker was abducted in late June before being released several days later.

Its activities in Kimbi and Baraka, which began respectively nine and 17 years ago, will be handed on to the ministry of health, MSF added.

Topics: DR Congo , Medecins Sans Frontieres , Doctors Without Borders , Cooperation for the Development of Congo
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