Scores feared missing after ambush in eastern Congo

Congolese soldiers patrol near Beni in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.PHOTO/AP
Congolese soldiers patrol near Beni in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. /AP

Around 80 people are feared missing in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after suspected Islamist militants ambushed a convoy on Wednesday and set fire to 16 vehicles, a local parliamentarian said.

Some 100 vehicles were traveling in a convoy with army protection on the road between the cities of Beni and Butembo when they came under fire, survivors said.

“The gunfire started near the village of Ofaye. Some vehicles were hit and then burned,” one of the survivors, Malanda Dague, told Reuters. He said a friend of his was missing.

Jean-Paul Ngahangondi, a member of the parliament in North Kivu Province, where the convoy started before crossing into Ituri province, said about 80 people were believed to be missing.

Attacks by the armed groups operating in eastern Congo’s borderlands with Rwanda and Uganda have continued despite the government’s imposition of martial law in Ituri and North Kivu Province at the beginning of May.

The installation of army generals as provincial governors was meant to quell a surge in violence that the military largely attributes to the ADF.

But the number of civilians killed in such attacks has further increased since then, according to the Kivu Security Tracker, which maps unrest in eastern Congo.

Ngahangondi, the local lawmaker, and Congo government spokesman Patrick Muyaya blamed the attack on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan Islamist militant group accused of killing thousands of people in recent years.

The group could not be reached for comment.