Eighteen people were killed Tuesday by a militia group in the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, including 12 inside a Catholic parish where they had taken refuge, local sources said.
Codeco (Cooperative for the Development of Congo) militiamen “killed 12 people” in the Catholic parish of Kilo, where displaced people had fled violence in a neighboring village, said Jean-Pierre Basiloko, president of civil society in the Banyali-Kilo sector.
“These militiamen attacked us at around 5:30 a.m. (03:30 GMT), they started firing shots, we locked ourselves in the house. They entered one of the apartments where the displaced were sleeping (…) After they left, we found 12 bodies,” said a church official.
Several people “fled into the bush”. “We hope they are all alive,” he added.
The Codeco militia is an armed group structured around a religious sect. They claim to defend the Lendu tribe, one of the communities in Ituri, from the army and the Hema tribe.
According to the United Nations and Congolese authorities, its militiamen are behind most of the current violence in Ituri, especially in its northern part since late 2017.