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29 people found executed in DRC national park in suspected jihadist attack

THE REMAINS of 29 people have been discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), believed to be victims of an armed group responsible for the deaths of hundreds of civilians in the past year.

The bodies were found in the Virunga National Park in the east of the country and appeared to have been “executed en masse,” Jean-Bosco Sebishimbo, interior minister of North Kivu province, said on Tuesday evening.

The provincial government blamed “this latest slaughter of civilians” on a notorious Islamist group known as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which Mr Sebishimbo said was “very active in the area.”

The ADF, which aims to create an Islamist state in the region, was founded in 1996 in Uganda and has since spread to the DRC.

It has launched frequent attacks in North Kivu’s Beni territory, where at least 811 civilians have been killed since October 31 last year, according to the Kivu Security Tracker, which maps violence by armed groups and security forces in the region.

Security sources believe that the victims were some of the 1,400 men that escaped from Beni prison when it was attacked by ADF fighters last month. Their assessment was based on the degree of  decomposition of the bodies and their location.

The jihadist group is one of more than 100 militias that operate in the country’s unstable eastern provinces. According to the United Nations, more than 1,000 civilians were killed by the ADF in 2019-20.

A further six people were killed during an armed attack in the village of Kokola earlier on Tuesday, the UN reported.

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