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Nearly 150 killed in DRC since beginning of June as violence escalates

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(LONDON) — Almost 150 civilians have been killed since the beginning of June in the Democratic Republic of Congo, local authorities announced.

It comes following a spike in attacks by the Islamic State group-affiliated Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in the east of the Central African nation.

At least 42 people were killed in the latest attack, in the village of Mayikengo in Lubero, east of North Kivu province, Africa Union Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat said in a statement on Monday.

Mahamat said he learned with “dismay of the multiplication of massacres of innocent civilian population” in the Beni and Lubero regions, sending condolences to families of the victims.

The ADF rebel group is one of the “more than 100” armed groups operating in the DRC, and has been present in the country since the 1990s, long before it established ties with IS in 2018, according to the U.S. Sate Department.

The spate of attacks by the armed group has contributed to a new wave of escalating violence in the east of the DRC, according to Bruno Lemarquis, the U.N.’s local humanitarian coordinator. He expressed “grave concern” over the “alarming deterioration” of the situation.

“If this violence persists, it risks further worsening the already precarious humanitarian situation in the provinces of Ituri, North Kivu, and South Kivu, where more than 900,000 newly displaced people have been registered between January and April 2024, bringing the total number of displaced people in these three provinces to over 5.6 million, and a total of 7.3 million in the country,” Lemarquis said.

At least one U.N. agency worker was injured by fire after a patrol was “blocked and attacked several times,” according to Vivian van de Perre, deputy special representative of the secretary-general for protection and operations at the U.N. Peacekeeping agency.

Pope Francis appealed on Sunday for an end to the violence, calling on the international community to do “everything possible” to safeguard civilian lives.

That appeal echoed one made last week by Lemarquis, of the U.N.

“I call on all armed groups and their supporters to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights, by protecting civilians, ensuring unhindered humanitarian access, and allowing humanitarian operations to proceed so that organizations can provide vital assistance to people in need,” Lemarquis said.

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