Dozens of civilians have been killed in eastern DR Congo in the latest of a string of massacres by the notorious ADF militia, a UN source reported on Wednesday.
The UN source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said at least 22 people were killed in two attacks on Monday and Tuesday in the south of Ituri province, near the border with North Kivu province. At least 16 others were killed last Friday and on Sunday, the source said.
The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have killed hundreds in the region since late 2019, in apparent retaliation for a military offensive against their bases.
A local NGO called Cepadho said in a statement that “at least 40 civilians (were) massacred” on Monday and Tuesday in the territory of Irumu in southern Ituri.
A separate source, a monitoring group called the Kivu Security Tracker (KST), said the bodies of 17 civilians had been found in Makutano, in Irumu, on Monday and Tuesday. KST said the number of massacres in eastern DRC was “increasing sharply.”
The group said that since May 7 it had recorded the deaths of 50 civilians, attributed to the ADF, in the North Kivu area of Beni alone. Deaths attributed to the ADF in April totaled 30, the KST said.
The ADF is a mainly Muslim movement that originated in neighboring Uganda in the 1990s, opposed to the rule of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
In 1995 it moved into the DRC, which became its base of operations, although it has not carried out attacks inside Uganda for years. A report to the UN Security Council in January said that the ADF has the characteristics of both an armed group and a criminal organization, while its members appeared to uphold a radical Islamist ideology.
Information is insufficient to prove that the ADF has any ties with international Islamic extremist movements, the report said.
DR Congo’s armed forces launched an offensive against the ADF in October 2019. Since then, they have reported a series of what they describe as successful operations, including the destruction of “all the ADF strongholds” in the forest and jungle around Beni, and having killed five out of six known rebel leaders.