Militia Group Kills At Least Nine People In A DRC Church, Official Says

ALEXIS HUGUET/AFP via Getty Images

John Oyewale Contributor
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A militia group attacked a church mid-service Sunday in an eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, killing at least nine civilian worshippers, according to Reuters.

The Cooperative for the Development of the Congo (CODECO) is to blame for the attack on the church, Reuters reported, citing Djugu territory administrator Ruphin Mapela and civil society leader Dieudonne Lossa. The church is located in the Ituri province.

“The victims were praying to the Lord, but unfortunately militiamen identified as CODECO opened fire on them,” Lossa said, according to the outlet. Nine civilians, four attackers and one soldier were reportedly killed in the incident. (RELATED: US Turns To Country Notorious For Child Labor And Unsafe Mines To Source Its EV Ambitions)

CODECO attacked multiple churches located near the shore of Lake Albert in the Bahema-Nord chiefdom in Djugu territory within Ituri, Mapel said, Reuters reported.

Ituri army spokesperson Jules Ngongo Tshikudi called on the locals to “remain calm as the armed forces pursue these criminals to put them out of action.” Some three million people in Ituri critically need aid in an ongoing humanitarian crisis, according to Reuters.

CODECO, one of the many militias fighting in the conflict-scarred eastern Congo, reportedly claimed to defend the Lendu farmers from Hema cattle herders. The agriculturalist Lendu and nomadic Hema have been locked in a reportedly bloody conflict driven by competition for land and mineral resources since the late 1990s.

The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (French acronym MONUSCO), the UN’s peacekeeping force in Ituri, has repelled several attacks by CODECO on civilians and shielded many internally displaced persons, the UN said in July 2020.