The United Nations soldiers on Thursday announced they had unearthed mass graves in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo containing 49 victims. They blamed the deaths on an ethnic militia.
Forty-two bodies were discovered in the village of Nyamamba in the Ituri province. This number included twelve females and six young children.
The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) reported on Twitter that seven men’s remains had been discovered in the town of Mbogi, roughly 30 kilometres (19 miles) east of the provincial capital Bunia.
Peacekeepers responded to reports of attacks over the weekend by launching a patrol in the area. The statement said, “MONUSCO strongly condemns these barbaric and cowardly killings attributed to CODECO.”
There are dozens of militias in eastern Congo, and CODECO is just one of them. Most of its members are farmers of the Lendu ethnicity who have taken to attacking Hema herders in Ituri province regularly.
“CODECO, which is split into factions and operates in remote areas, does not have a spokesperson and could not be reached for comment.”
At least 195 civilians have been killed and 84 kidnapped since the beginning of December, according to the U.N. mission, with attacks blamed on CODECO and a rival militia known as Zaire. This has caused almost 1.5 million people to flee their homes in Ituri province.
When asked for response, the Congolese government’s spokesman did not immediately react.