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At Least 9 Killed by Bomb in Northeastern DRC

At least nine people were killed and a dozen wounded when a bomb went off in a village in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, a local official said Thursday.

The bomb exploded in the eastern territory of Rutshuru on Wednesday evening, according to Isaac Kibira, a deputy to the province’s governor. A local self-defense fighter — part of a militia to protect the community — was trying to identify an object on the ground when it detonated in the village center, instantly killing him and eight civilians nearby.

It was not immediately known who planted the bomb, though officials said it was found in an area where armed rebels recently have made incursions.

“Emergency first aid was provided by elements of the regional forces of the East African Community deployed in the area,” said Kibira. Local health officials said they admitted the wounded to a clinic for treatment.

Fighting in eastern Congo has been simmering for decades as more than 120 groups fight for power, land and valuable mineral resources, while others try to defend their communities. But it spiked in late 2021 when the rebel group M23, which was largely dormant for nearly a decade, resurfaced and started capturing territory. Earlier this week, the United Nations raised the alarm about a surge in violence in the country’s northeast.

M23 rose to prominence 10 years ago when its fighters seized Goma, eastern Congo’s largest city on the border with Rwanda. It derives its name from a March 23, 2009, peace deal that it accuses the Congo government of not implementing. The Congolese government and the U.N. have accused Rwanda of supporting the M23 rebels, allegations Rwanda denies.

M23 and a local self-defense group have been fighting for control of the village. Youth militia groups called Wazalendo (“patriots” in Kiswahili) have formed across northeastern Congo to protect their communities from encroaching armed groups.

Wednesday’s deaths came less than a week after M23 was accused of killing nearly a dozen people in a different village in the same area.


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