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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - Militants in eastern Congo kill 12 villagers as country’s leader rules out talks with Rwanda
KINSHASA, Congo: Militants killed at least 12 villagers in a spate of attacks in eastern Congo, a local official and a civil society leader said as the country’s president ruled out dialogue with neighboring Rwanda over a related conflict.
The killings in Congo’s North Kivu province took place on Tuesday and were carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces, armed militants believed to be linked to the extremist Daesh group.
The militants attacked three villages in the Beni territory, according to Kinos Katuho, the president of the local Mamove civil society organization.
Eastern Congo has struggled with armed violence for decades as more than 120 groups fight for power, land and valuable mineral resources, while others try to defend their communities. The armed groups have long waged campaigns of violence in the mineral-rich region and have been accused of mass killings.
The conflict spiked in late 2021 when another rebel group, which goes by the name M23 and which had been largely dormant, resurfaced and initiated attacks to seize territory. The group allegedly has support from neighboring Rwanda, though the country denies ties.
“Two people were killed in the village of Mangazi-Kasongo, five in Matadi-Beu and five others in Mamove,” said Katuho.
Among those killed by the attackers — who also looted the properties — was the village chief in Matadi-Beu, according to Mamove chief Charles Endukadi.
Meanwhile, Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi on Tuesday repeated his claims that the M23 rebels are supported by Rwanda, and said he would not engage in talks with Rwanda’s leader, Paul Kagame, over the issue.
The United Nations and human rights groups have also said the militants receive backing from Rwanda.
“No dialogue will take place with our aggressor as long as it occupies a portion of our territory,” Tshisekedi said, referring to Rwanda. He spoke during a meeting with diplomats in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa.
“We will not accept any compromise,” he said.
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