from JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – AT least 739 civilians have been killed in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) despite the government imposing martial law in May to curb terror by armed groups.
Human rights organisations reported that various rebel groups, some unidentified, have killed at least 672 civilians, while Congolese security forces have killed 67 civilians, in Ituri and North Kivu provinces, between the start of martial law.
The Kivu Security Tracker, a joint project of Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Congo Research Group, indicated the spate of killings.
The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an Islamist armed group led by Ugandans, is among the most brutal groups.
Thomas Fessy, senior Congo researcher at HRW, said the Congolese government might recognise the need for greater security in Ituri and North Kivu, but imposing martial law has not accomplished that.
“Despite the government’s efforts to spin its actions as military successes, many people across eastern Congo still live in constant fear of the next massacre,” Fessy said.
President Félix Tshisekedi has asserted that military control would restore security in the region but human rights groups are worried numbers of civilians being killed in attacks have largely remained unchanged.
Government spokesman, Patrick Muyaya, has been quoted as saying results of martial law to date were “very encouraging.”
Bintou Keita, head of the UN mission in DRC (MONUSCO) recently hailed martial law as a “very important tool” in the fight against insecurity in the east and in North Kivu and Ituri.
More than 100 armed groups continue to operate in eastern DRC.
The former Zaire has been in constant conflict since independence in 1960.
Tshisekedi has been in power since succeeding Joseph Kabila in 2019.
The election for Tshisekedi represented the first democratic transfer of power in the country.
– CAJ News