The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels on Wednesday killed five civilians in troubled Democratic Republic of Congo’s eastern province of Ituri, local sources said.
The latest unrest stoked fears of disruption of a regional census due to be held Thursday across the country’s east, plagued by years of violence from a plethora of rebel groups.
A nationwide process to confirm voters on electoral rolls began in the west in December with central and south eastern districts added to the census last month ahead of presidential polls slated for December 2023.
Thursday was due to see the enrolment extended to seven eastern and north eastern provinces but the ongoing violence could hamper the process.
Ituri is a volatile province where at least 20 civilians were killed in weekend militia attacks, according to the UN and local sources.
Since the end of last year, numerous attacks by militants in Ituri, some linked to insurgencies, have left several dozen dead nearly every week and left thousands of people displaced.
The neighbouring province of North Kivu has also suffered repeated attacks attributed to the ADF, which originates from Uganda and which the so-called Islamic State group claims as its central African affiliate.
“There was an incursion (Wednesday) by ADF rebels in the locality of Bukima. They killed five people — a man, three women and a child,” said civil society representative Faustin Brazza, who added that two people were injured.
Babanilau Tchabi, the head of Brazza’s village group, confirmed the tally and said the repeated attacks had seen the bulk of the area’s residents leave the area fearing for their safety.
Tchabi said he hoped the joint efforts of Congolese and Ugandan forces to try to pacify the area would bring some respite and “reassure civilians” to allow the census to go ahead.
Brazza expressed doubts, asking: “How are people going to obtain their (voting) cards given this repeated insecurity?”