Africa

Congo army kills 27 rebels, loses four soldiers

A soldier of the FARDC (Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo) takes cover during exchanges of fire with members of the ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) in Opira. Alain Wandimoyi-AFP

The Congolese army said on Thursday that it had lost four soldiers and killed 27 militiamen in two days of fighting in several villages in the northeast of the country.

The fighting took place on Tuesday and Thursday in two villages in Djugu territory in Ituri province after militiamen from the Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) group burned down more than 20 houses in four neighbouring areas and attacked an army position.

The military “found and saw 27 bodies of CODECO militiamen, and three AK 47 type weapons were recovered. Unfortunately, we lost four soldiers,” Democratic Republic of Congo army spokesman Lieutenant Jules Ngongo said in a statement.

“We are continuing to search because we have caused enormous losses and damage in the camp of these militiamen.”

In neighbouring North Kivu province, the army killed three rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) group on Thursday, according to Captain Antony Mualushayi, an army spokesman in the area.

Gold-rich Ituri province has been plunged back into a cycle of violence since late 2017 with the rise of the CODECO militia, which claims to defend the Lendu community.

North Kivu and Ituri have been under a state of siege since 6 May, an exceptional measure to combat armed groups, including CODECO and the ADF. Civilian authorities have been replaced by military and police officers.

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