Death toll rises to 41 in attack on eastern Congo villages

The death toll has climbed to 41 following an attack by suspected Islamist rebels on villages in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday, according to a Congolese army spokesman.

Lieutenant-Colonel Mak Hazukay, an army spokesman in Congo’s North Kivu province, stated that the attack was carried out by members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). The ADF, which is now based in eastern Congo, has pledged allegiance to Islamic State and frequently launches attacks, exacerbating instability in a region plagued by numerous militant groups.

Originating from neighboring Uganda, the ADF is also suspected to be behind another assault earlier this week that left at least 16 people dead.

Local official Fabien Kakule told media that armed men used guns and machetes to attack residents of villages in Beni territory overnight on Friday.

Vusindi Nick Junior, a local civil society leader, reported that a health center was set ablaze and nine people were injured in addition to the 41 killed.

“Several dozen civilians have been victims of the ADF in eastern DRC in recent days. Terrorist groups are taking advantage of the chaos to expand their hold on an already very unstable region,” said EU foreign affairs spokeswoman Nabila Massrali. She emphasized the urgent need to accelerate efforts to find a political solution.

Julien Paluku, a former governor of North Kivu, expressed on X that Congo’s national government needs to do more to address insecurity in the east. The government has not yet issued a statement on the attack, and a government spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

“People have the impression, rightly or wrongly, of being abandoned to their sad fate,” he said.

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