Ethnic clashes kill 15, wound dozens in southeast DR Congo

January 6, 2017 5:00 pm

This file photo shows a group of Pygmies sheltering from the rain in the Mubambiro village near Goma in the Democratic . (Photo by AFP)

Violent ethnic clashes have claimed the lives of at least 15 people in the southeast of the , local sources say.
Members of the Bantu ethnic community in the village of Piana Mwanga in Tanganyika Province came under attack on Thursday in what was blamed on a group of Pygmies.
Local officials said at least 37 other Bantus sustained injuries and 65 of their houses were torched during the assault.
Provincial Interior Minister Kamona Lumuna confirmed the attack but said the exact number of casualties was yet to be known, adding that a team would be sent to probe “what really happened in the village.”
Meanwhile, Modeste Kubali, the leader of a local civil , offered a higher casualty toll. He said 17 people had been killed and 47 wounded. 
“The village has been emptied of its population and the injured have been abandoned to their sad fate,” Kubali said.
For years, the Pygmies in the region, belonging to the ethnic Twa group, have been striving — sometimes violently — for equal rights with others in the volatile country, particularly with Bantus, who consider them as second-class.
Since late 2013, the region has witnessed multiple violent clashes between the Pygmies and the Bantus from the ethnic Luba community. Last October, some 20 people lost their lives in three days of violence in the town of Kabalo in Tanganyika over a disputed caterpillar collection tax.
The DR Congo has faced numerous problems over the past few decades, such as grinding poverty, crumbling infrastructure, and a war in the east of the country that has dragged on since 1998 and left over 5.5 million people dead.
Dozens of armed groups have been active in the eastern DR Congo, and the Congolese army, joined by United Nations forces, has launched an offensive against rebel groups.
Most recently, the country has been plagued by social unrest over President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down after his second term in office expired last December. During the past several months, violent clashes between police and protesters have killed dozens of people.
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