Ugandan rebels tortured and killed 12 people in Democratic Republic of Congo’s eastern North Kivu province, a local leader said.
The victims, all from the same village, were kidnapped from Jan. 27 to Feb. 5 on the way to their fields by rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda, or ADF-NALU, Omar Kavota, president of a civil society coordination group in the town of Beni, said by phone. The corpses showed signs of torture, he said.
“We’re still looking for three other hostages,” Kavota said.
Congo’s eastern region has been mired in conflict for more than 15 years, fuelled by illicit trade of natural resources. Between 1998 and 2007, more than 3 million people died as a result of the conflict, mainly due to preventable disease and hunger, according to the New York-based International Rescue Committee.
Congolese military operations against the Islamist ADF-NALU rebels began in late June in the Beni area near the Ugandan border. The rebels, who emerged in the 1990’s vowing to overthrow Yoweri Museveni’s government in Uganda, were largely destroyed by Congolese and United Nations forces in 2005, according to the UN.
The remaining rebels have been involved in the trafficking of diamonds and gold from North Kivu and Ituri district, according to a 2007 report by the World Bank. The group is also involved in poaching, extortion, and illicit trade in timber, according to the Congolese army.
About 50,000 people fled their homes last year because of fighting between the army and the rebels, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The ADF-NALU is led by Jamil Mukulu, a Muslim cleric who has been based in London, according to a UN report released in November. Mukulu is listed on the Interpol website as wanted in Uganda for terrorism. The rebel group is also on the U.S.’s Terrorist Exclusion List, which blocks members and foreigners who support the group from entering the U.S.
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