DRC President: Ituri violence ‘attempted genocide’
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Felix Tshisekedi has called recent ethnic violence in the northeastern Ituri province an “attempted genocide”.
At least 160 civilians have been killed since June 10 during clashes between militias connected to Lendu farmers and rival Hema farmers. During a three-day visit to the area, President Tshisekedi condemned the violence as a “plot” and promised to “find out the truth” about who is behind the ongoing unrest.
Ituri violence ‘attempted genocide’
“Clearly, this looks like an attempt at genocide,” Tshisekedi told reporters during a press conference in the city of Bunia. The president said recent violence has been orchestrated by a group “to push Ituri to ignite” and “destabilise the power” of the central government in Kinshasa.
On Sunday, the president ordered the DRC military to launch a “large-scale” operation against armed groups in Ituri’s Djugu and Mahagi territories, where much of the violence has taken place. He said the operation would also extend further south to handle other ongoing clashes, including those taking place in South Kivu.
The DRC is grappling with multiple ethnic clashes across multiple parts of the country. Armed militias and rival farmers continue to fight over land in the resource-rich country with many local conflicts running on for decades now.
Ituri and North Kivu province are also grappling with a major Ebola outbreak that has claimed more than 1,500 lives since August last year and threatens to spread into neighbouring countries. Efforts to contain the disease have been hampered by ethnic violence in the provinces, including attacks against health workers.
Featured image: By MONUSCO Photos – Aveba, district de l’Ituri, Province Orientale, DR Congo : Des militaires FARDC en patrouille., CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46294316