Clashes in Eastern Congo Leave at Least 21 People Dead, UN Says

Clashes in two districts in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo at the weekend left at least 21 people dead and 40 wounded, the United Nations said.

Fighting between members of the ethnic Hutu and Nande communities in the Lubero and Walikale districts in North Kivu province reached an “alarming level,” Cecile Pouilly, spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in an e-mailed statement. The unrest may lead to “large-scale violence and further displacement.”

Dozens of armed groups remain active in eastern Congo after the end of two civil wars in 2003. The alignment of different armed groups behind each community is exacerbating tensions and makes the situation “even more potentially explosive,” the UN said. The Hutu community is supported by members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo, while the Nande community is backed by Mayi Mayi fighters, it said.

In January, UN peacekeepers and the Congolese army agreed to begin joint operations against the FDLR. In 2013, the largest rebel group in the region, the M23, was defeated in joint-operations, though disagreements between the mission and the army prevented further progress.

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