13 dead in DR Congo clashes between rival communities

GOMA, CONGO - APRIL 26: A Congolese soldier (FARDC) poses April 26, 2010 on the outskirts of Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. Government soldiers, who usually get paid around $35-40 per month, are struggling to survive and support their family. Some of them are accused of extortion, rape, and other crimes. (Photo by Kuni Takahashi/Getty Images)

At least 13 people were killed in clashes involving machetes between two rival communities in the centre of the Democratic Republic of Congo, local government officials said on Tuesday.

The violence erupted on Monday in Kasai province, an area of DR Congo that has often seen tensions spark between local ethnic communities.

“I am in front of 13 Kuba bodies, all beheaded with machetes,” Kasai provincial health minister Ferdinand Mposhamba told AFP, referring to one of the local communities.

The violence broke out on Monday in the town of Bakuakenge, an area at the heart of a local dispute between the provinces of Kasai and Kasai Central since 2015.

The area is inhabited by the Kuba and the Luba, which are communities from Kasai and Kasai Central respectively.

The home of one local senator was also torched in the violence, the Kasai minister said, adding that many residents had fled into the rural areas outside the town.

The governor of Kasai province, Dieudonne Pieme Tutokot, denounced the presence of armed men arriving by train from the neighbouring province.

Between late 2016 and March 2017, Kasai region was the scene of a violent conflict after the death of a traditional chief, Kamuina Nsapu, killed in an operation by the security forces.

More than 3,000 were killed after violence erupted between the security forces and the militias supporting Nsapu, with 1.5 million displaced.