East of Democratic Republic of Congo

East of Democratic Republic of Congo

Militants killed at least 19 people, including 10 soldiers, in raids on two villages in the east of Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday, hours after President Felix Tshisekedi declared a state of siege in two provinces.

A surge in attacks by armed militias and inter-communal violence in the east have killed more than 300 people since the start of the year as government troops and U.N. peacekeepers struggle to stabilize the situation.

The latest violence took place early on Saturday morning when militants raided two villages in North Kivu's regional hub of Beni, local authorities said.

Tshisekedi had declared a state of siege in North Kivu and Ituri provinces on Friday.

"The objective is to swiftly end the insecurity which is killing our fellow citizens in that part of the country on a daily basis," government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said.

He did not say what steps would be taken next under the state of siege.

On Friday armed police in Beni dispersed students who were staging an eight-day sit-in at the town hall to draw attention to the worsening security situation. Several students were wounded and others were arrested, according to a Reuters witness.

A Ugandan insurgent faction active in eastern Congo since the 1990s called the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) is believed to be responsible for much of the recent bloodshed.

It has carried out a spate of reprisal attacks on civilians since the army began operations against it in late 2019, killing around 850 people last year, according to United Nations figures.

The violence has fuelled a humanitarian crisis with more than 1.6 million people displaced in Ituri out of a total population of 5.7 million people, UNICEF said in April. Some 2.8 million people there are in need of some form of emergency assistance, it said.

AND ANOTHER, Chad’s ruling military council said on Friday that six of its soldiers had been killed in a battle near the northern town of Nokou that resulted in several hundred killed on the rebel side and 60 captured.

The two sides were fighting on Thursday near Nokou, which is about 20 km (12 miles) from where former president Idriss Deby was fatally wounded earlier in April, plunging the country into crisis. The council said it had successfully repelled a rebel incursion towards Nokou, and that an additional 22 of its own soldiers were wounded in the encounter.

"The search for the final fugitives continues," it said in a statement.

There was no immediate comment from the rebels.

The military council run by Deby's son, Mahamat Idriss Deby, seized power after the former's death on April 19 and promised to hold elections within 18 months. The northern rebels have rejected that and are continuing to fight the army in the desert.

The transition and the wrangling around it is being closely watched in a country that is a power in central Africa and a longtime Western ally against Islamist militants across the Sahel.

On Thursday, a group describing itself as a coalition of the rebels said they had routed Chadian army forces in the northwestern Tibesti region bordering Niger.

Military spokesman Azem Bermendao Agouna later said this was not correct and that there was no rebel coalition operating in that area.

Deby was killed as he visited troops fighting Libya-based rebels from the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), which opposed his 30-year rule. Opposition politicians have condemned the council's assumption of power since his death as a coup.

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