DRC | MINING | ATTACK
An attack on a gold mining site killed 16 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo's troubled northeast on Tuesday, local sources said.
"CODECO militiamen broke into the mining site at Sumbu village between 5 and 6 am," said Assani Ngadjole, civil society president of the Mambisa chieftaincy. The village lies in Ituri province.
"They killed civilians, mostly farmers and those who work at the mine site," he added, claiming to have seen the bodies of 12 civilians and four soldiers.
Mambisa leader Henri Tchele Yoga Krilo said four soldiers and 12 civilians, including two children and two women, had been killed.
Krilo and Ngadjole said the soldiers had been assigned to guard a mining cooperative in the village, and they accused the militia of having stolen gold and equipment.
Army spokesman Lieutenant Jules Ngongo confirmed the deaths of four soldiers but did not provide a civilian toll.
Last week, four people were killed and two Chinese workers were kidnapped in the same area, Djugu, after soldiers and CODECO militiamen battled over a Chinese-managed mine in Mungbwalu village, the army said.
The CODECO, the Cooperative for the Development of the Congo, is a political-religious sect that claims to represent the interests of the Lendu ethnic group.
It is considered one of the deadliest of the more than 120 militias operating in the eastern DRC, blamed for several ethnic massacres in Ituri.
Last year, Congo's government put security officials in charge of Ituri and neighboring North Kivu province in a bid to curb violence, but the attacks continue.