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Anglican pastor among 50 killed in Congo attacks

Islamist group is blamed for fresh violence in the troubled African nation

Anglican pastor among 50 killed in Congo attacks

An Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) soldier takes part in a foot patrol in the village of Manzalaho near Beni. (Photo: AFP)

Published: June 02, 2021 11:56 AM GMT

Updated: June 02, 2021 12:04 PM GMT

An Anglican pastor was among 50 people killed in separate attacks in the troubled eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Local officials and monitor groups said on June 1 that the attacks on May 31 night were the worst seen in at least four years in the troubled Tchabi and Boga regions in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, bordering Uganda.

The army blamed the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an Islamist armed group, for raiding villages.

Albert Basegu, head of a civil rights group in Boga, told Reuters that he came to know about the attack there by the sound of cries at a neighboring house.

"When I got there, I found that the attackers had already killed an Anglican pastor and his daughter was also seriously wounded," Basegu said.

The Kivu Security Tracker (KST), a research group which has mapped violence in the restive eastern region in Congo since June 2017, tweeted that the wife of the head of the Banyali-Tchabi chieftaincy was among the dead.

Congo is known for ethnic conflicts between the Nyali and Banyabwisa communities

"It's the deadliest day ever recorded by the KST," said Pierre Boisselet, the group's coordinator.

More bodies are being found and the toll is likely to grow, said local MP Gracien Iracan.

The ADF is reported to have killed more than 850 people in 2020, according to the United Nations, after the army started a crackdown on the rebel outfit.

In March this year, the United States termed the ADF a terrorist organization. The group is reported to have proclaimed its allegiance to the Islamic State group.

President Felix Tshisekedi declared a state of siege in North Kivu and Ituri provinces on May 1 to curb attacks by militant outfits.

Congo is known for ethnic conflicts between the Nyali and Banyabwisa communities. The latter are Congolese Hutus of Rwandan origin.

Ituri, a gold-rich province bordering Uganda and South Sudan, has been plagued by violence for the past three decades.

After a few years of calm, violence returned to the region in December 2017.

The Catholic Church has been active in peace efforts in Congo, where around 5 million people have been displaced.

More than 900,000 people have sought refuge in neighboring countries and half a million are internally displaced, according to 2020 data by UNHCR, the UN refugee agency.

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