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At least 11 killed as army's clashes with central Congo militia persist
February 13, 2017 / 11:47 AM / 7 months ago

At least 11 killed as army's clashes with central Congo militia persist

KINSHASA (Reuters) - At least 11 people were killed in central Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday in clashes between the army and a militia loyal to a traditional chief killed in fighting with police last year, a local activist said.

Monday’s violence occurred near Tshimbulu, the town where the army killed more than 60 militia members in fighting last Friday, Jean Rene Tshimanga, president of the Civil Society of Kasai-Central province, said.

“This morning, we learned again that (the militia) attacked the men in uniform (who) repelled them,” Tshimanga told Reuters. He did not know how many of the dead were militia members and how many army soldiers.

Neither provincial nor military officials could be immediately reached for comment.

Similar clashes in recent months have killed hundreds and uprooted tens of thousands. The militia’s leader, Kamwina Nsapu, was killed by police last August after having vowed to rid the province of all state security forces.

Analysts say militia violence in Congo, a tinderbox of conflicts linked to land, ethnicity and mineral resources, has been exacerbated by President Joseph Kabila’s failure to step down when his constitutional mandate expired in December.

On Saturday, the Congo’s U.N. peacekeeping mission said Kamwina Nsapu had committed violent atrocities and used child soldiers and it also criticised the army for what it said was a disproportionate use of force against the militia fighters, who are typically only lightly armed.

Reporting by Aaron Ross; Editing by Nellie Peyton and Louise Ireland

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