At least seven people were killed in an attack on a displaced persons’ camp in the Ituri province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the head of civil society groups said on Friday.
The attack on the Plaine Savo camp, located in the Bahema-Badjere chiefdom in Djugu territory, was attributed to militants from the Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) rebel group.
“The attack on the internally displaced people’s camp happened on (Thursday) night. CODECO militants killed people and burnt and looted property. So far, seven people are confirmed dead and eight injured,” Jean Vianney Ngesse, the head of civil society groups in the area, told journalists.
“The dead included five children,” Ngesse added.
Since Jan. 9, a series of attacks attributed to CODECO militants has left at least 57 civilians dead in the Djugu territory, said Kivu Security Tracker, a crisis mapping monitor focused on violence in the eastern part of the country.
The latest attack came a day after UN peacekeepers discovered mass graves in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo containing the bodies of 42 civilians, a UN spokesman said on Wednesday.
The victims, including 12 women and six children, were discovered in the village of Nyamamba in Ituri province, about 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) east of the provincial capital Bunia, according to Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Peacekeepers also found another grave with the bodies of seven men in the village of Mbogi in the same province.
The graves were discovered after investigations by the UN mission in DR Congo, known as MONUSCO, following reports that militants from the CODECO rebel group attacked civilians in the area over the weekend, Haq said, adding “this is when they made the gruesome discoveries.”
The UN mission called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
“These incidents occurred amidst a significant deterioration of the security situation in Djugu and Mahagi territories,” Haq said.
Since December 2022, at least 195 civilians have been killed, 68 injured and 84 others abducted during several incidents attributed to CODECO and Zaire armed groups, according to the UN.
Recent attacks have increased the number of displaced people to more than 1.5 million in Ituri and reduced access for humanitarian workers to those in need of assistance.
CODECO, which claims to defend members of the Lendu community, was last year accused of taking hostage President Felix Tshisekedi’s peace envoys who were on a mission to negotiate a cease-fire and the demobilization of militiamen in Ituri.
Last year, a large-scale massacre attributed to CODECO militants left 62 people dead in an attack on a camp for displaced people.