East African Community Force soldiers drive on a vehicle in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo credit: AFP
Five children were among 12 people killed in a village in the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo by suspected militiamen who did not attend recent peace talks, local sources said Friday.
"Civilians were burnt alive in their homes, others were hacked to death with machetes," Joseph Lotoma, head of the Walendu Watsi village said following the overnight killings.
The bodies of five children, three women and four men were found in the morning, he said.
According to Jean-Marie Ndjaza, a spokesman for the Lendu people, the majority of the victims belonged to the Lendu ethnic group.
According to Lotoma, "The perpetrators of this crime are not the Codeco. A militia that claims to speak for the Lendu ethnic group and is responsible for a large number of recent civilian killings in the province.
Investigations were ongoing, he added, but it was thought that "Zaire," a rival militia that describes itself as a Hema ethnic group self-defence group, was to blame.
Several dozen armed groups active in the eastern DRC were represented by Codeco at the most recent round of peace negotiations in Nairobi.
However, the Zaire group declined the invitation.
The Lendu community expressed concerns about Codeco's retaliation.
"We call on the leaders of Codeco not to fall into the trap of their enemies, not to respond to this provocation," Ndjaza said.
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