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U.N.: Armed Group Burns 16 Alive in DR Congo

An armed tribal movement burned 16 people alive in a house during a June 1 attack on a village in the Katanga province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, U.N. sources said Thursday.

The victims were targeted by elements of the Mai Mai Bakata-Katanga militia in a raid on Lwela village, near Manono town in the center of the province, according to the latest weekly report of the U.N. mission in the DRC (MONUSCO).

A local self-defense group known as Simba Moto counter-attacked and killed seven of the Mai Mai while driving them back, the report said.

Katanga province, in the southeast of the vast DRC, is the richest part of the country, with various mineral resources including copper, which is the mainstay of foreign exports.

The Bakata-Katanga, or Kata Katanga, attacked the province's chief town Lubumbashi on March 23, marching through city streets and then fighting with the army close to the governor's offices. The official casualty toll was 23 dead.

After the clashes, the Mai Mai entered a barracks for U.N. peacekeeping troops, who disarmed them and turned them over to Congolese security forces, to be transferred to the capital Kinshasa.

After the incident, the Kinshasa authorities suspended the commander of the Katanga military region, the provincial police commissioner and senior intelligence and immigration officials from their posts.

Katanga, the native province of President Joseph Kabila, has regularly been shaken by separatist uprisings and militia activity since the DRC's independence from Belgium in 1960.

The U.N. reported in February that more than 300,000 people in the region had fled their homes because of attacks by militia groups.

Source: Agence France Presse


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