51 killed in DRC machete attack
16 August 2016, 13:49
Goma - Civil society groups in the Democratic
Republic of Congo on Monday said the number of people hacked to death in the
restive east this weekend has risen to 51.
"Our team on the ground has counted 51 bodies
slain with machetes," said Teddy Kataliko, a member of a local alliance of
NGOs and unions working in the troubled town of Beni.
Local mayor Edmond Masumbuko on Sunday said 42
people had died in Saturday night's mass killing in Beni. The government in
Kinshasa had earlier put the death toll at 36.
Government spokesman Lambert Mende said the civil
society groups' toll was "impossible to objectively verify".
Saturday night's attack was the latest in a string
of killings that have left more than 650 people dead in and around Beni since
The army has blamed the attack on the Allied
Democratic Forces (ADF), a partly Islamist armed group of Ugandan origin.
The group has been present in DR Congo for more
than two decades and is accused of copious human rights abuses.
The killings sparked rage among local residents who
accused the government of failing to protect them.
Some of the victims' families refused to take their
relatives' bodies to the morgue, Kataliko told AFP.
"They decided to hold private funerals and
refused to allow the government to bury them
because it could not guarantee their security while they were still
alive," he added.
All shops were shut in Beni on Monday and the
streets plunged into silence for the first of three days of national mourning.
The attack took place just three days after a visit
by President Joseph Kabila to the area.
On Monday Kabila was in the regional capital Goma
for a meeting of security officials, and he was later due to visit Beni.
Army spokesman Mak Hakuzay
told AFP that military units deployed in the area would be given new uniforms because ADF rebels "have
infiltrated" an area under the Congolese armed forces' control.
opposed to Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, is thought to be deeply
embroiled in criminal networks funded by kidnappings, smuggling and logging.
Despite efforts by the international community and
the Congolese authorities, the region has remained mired in violence since the
end of the second Congolese war (1998-2003).
A report published in March by the Congo Research
Group at New York University, which looked into the massacres around Beni,
claimed that soldiers from the regular army had also participated in the