Twenty-three people have been killed in renewed clashes between ethnic groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s troubled east, according to an official toll Wednesday.
The violence, in Rutshuru territory in the conflict-scarred province of North Kivu, has pitted the Hutu community on one side against the Nande and Hundu groups on the other.
“We have recorded the death of 16 civilians and seven militiamen since Sunday,” Francois Bakundakabo, an aide to the provincial governor, said.
Fighting occurred in the villages of Bwalanda, Mutanda and Kikuku, where the groups have regularly clashed over control of land. Several dozen people were killed in 2017.
The Nande and Hunde consider Congolese Hutu to be foreigners and in league with Rwandan Hutu rebels, gathered in a notoriously violent militia called the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
The FDLR, set up in 2000, includes several leaders who took part in the 1994 Rwanda genocide, in which hundreds of thousands of ethnic Tutsis, as well as member of the Pygmy Batwa community, were slaughtered by the Hutu majority government.
Eastern DRC has been a theatre of ethnic violence for 20 years, fuelled in part by the desire to control valuable mineral resources and farmland.