BUNIA, DR CONGO —
Four people drowned while fleeing an attack by a militia group on a mining area in the violence-ridden northeast of DR Congo, local sources said Wednesday.
The victims died in the Ituri river attempting to escape the Mai-Mai Simba militia group in the mineral-rich Ituri province on Saturday, according to human rights group Convention for the Development of Forest Peoples and local official Idris Koma Kokodila.
Forty-six people were also believed to have been abducted by the militia and used to carry loads from the site, a remote area 180 kilometres (110 miles) north of Bunia, a city near the troubled border with Uganda.
DR Congo's huge eastern region has long been wracked by violence, with dozens of armed groups — some self-described “self-defense” militias like the Mai-Mai Simba — active in the area.
Many of these groups were armed during the DR Congo’s second civil war — a conflict that ran from 1998-2003 — to fight incursion by Rwandan or Ugandan combatants, and have never been disarmed.