At Least 60 Dead in Attack on Camp for Displaced People in Congo


The attack was the latest to rock eastern Congo, a lush, mineral-rich region where militant groups have for years carried out vicious assaults against the local population. The attack on Tuesday, Mr. Boisselet said, was the deadliest one recorded in the region since last May, when 55 people were killed in a double attack in Boga and Tchabi villages in Ituri Province.

Nearly 5.6 million people remained displaced in Congo as of November, according to the United Nations refugee agency, with more than a million others registered as refugees and asylum seekers outside the country.

The deadliest of the armed groups is the Allied Democratic Forces, which has targeted peacekeeping forces, conducted jail breaks and carried out a string of suicide attacks in both Congo and neighboring Uganda. In late November, Uganda sent its troops into Congo in a joint operation with Congolese forces aimed at neutralizing the group and taking over its bases in the country.

CODECO, the militia that the government says conducted the assault on Tuesday, has been attacking villages in Ituri Province and pushing more people from their homes in the last three years, according to observers. At least four splinter groups of the militia emerged after its leader, Justin Ngudjolo, was killed in March 2020, with one of the offshoots, Union of Revolutionaries for the Defense of the Congolese People, carrying out at least 293 violent incidents since last April, according to the Kivu tracker.

As security has deteriorated, more than 800 deaths were recorded in Ituri in the last six months of 2021, Mr. Boisselet said.

Some displacement camps have seen repeated attacks. More than 20,000 people lived in Plaine Savo camp, said Simon Englebert Lubuku, the deputy country spokesman for the U.N. refugee agency, with those in the camp originally fleeing violence in the Djugu territory.

The violence in eastern Congo has continued even after President Felix Tshisekedi announced a “state of siege” last May in North Kivu and Ituri. The declaration put the military and the police in charge of the regions and instituted martial law in a bid to end the bloodshed. But killings, rapes and abductions have continued.