At least 14 civilians were killed and nine others wounded in the Democratic Republic of Congo by Rwandan Hutu rebel militias on Thursday morning, the country’s army has said.
Rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) launched an attack on ethnic Nande civilians, in a sign of the ethnic violence that persists in the conflict-torn region.
Mak Hazukay, a local spokesman for Congo’s army, said the militia attacked the civilians in the town of Lubero in North Kivu Province at around 2 am.
Hazukay added that the attack appeared to be intended in revenge for waves of attacks carried out by Nande Mai Mai militias against the FDLR. The Nande are historic rivals of the local Hutu, who dominated trade in North Kivu.
"For some time now, the FDLR and Mai Mai have fought over the zone and that has provoked high tensions between the two communities," Hazukay said.
There has been no immediate response from the FDLR’s spokesman.
Last February the Congo’s army attacked the FDLR. The rebels have accused Congolese forces of collaborating with local rebel groups to attack Hutu civilians.
The rebel FDLR, a Hutu militia with more than 1,000 members, was founded by some of the perpetrators of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide who fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo.