Raiders killed at least 35 people in an attack on a gold mine in Ituri, in the strife-torn northeast of Democratic Republic of Congo, local sources said Sunday.
One local official, Jean-Pierre Bikilisende, of the rural Mungwalu settlement in Djugu, Ituri, said the CODECO militia had carried out the attack on the artisanal mine.
Bikilisende said the militia had attacked the Camp Blanquette gold mine and that 29 bodies had been retrieved, while another six burnt bodies had been found buried at the site.
Among the dead was a four-month-old baby, he added.
“This is a provisional toll,” he said, as there had been other people killed whose bodies had been thrown down the mine shafts. Several other civilians had been reported missing, he said. “The search continues.”
Camp Blanquette was set up in a forest, far from the nearest military outpost, so help came too late, said Bikilisende.
Cherubin Kukundila, a civil leader in Mungwalu, said that at least 50 people had been killed in the raid. Several people had been wounded, nine of them seriously. They were being treated at Mungwalu hospital, he told AFP.
The Camp Blanquette mine lies seven kilometres (four miles) from Mungwalu.
CODECO has been blamed for a number of ethnic massacres in the province of Ituri.