DRC extends martial law in North Kivu and Ituri for 15 days
Justice minister says the move allows the government to deal with fallout from a volcanic eruption as well as security
Kinshasa — The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) legislators voted on Thursday to extend martial law in the restive east of the country for 15 days, a month after they replaced civilian authorities with military administrations in North Kivu and Ituri provinces.
Violence has been endemic in the DRC’s mineral-rich eastern regions since the official end of the civil war in 2003, but insecurity has soared in the past two years.
On May 6, the government imposed a state of siege to try to end the bloodshed. Violent attacks have since continued, but justice minister Rose Mutombo said numerous militia fighters had surrendered and the army had seized control of new areas.
“Much remains to be done, and the recent volcanic eruption of Nyiragongo, which occurred in the middle of a state of siege, has forced the government to concentrate its efforts in dealing with this natural disaster,” Mutombo said.
The eruption on May 22 sent rivers of lava streaming through the outskirts of the city of Goma, killing at least 31 people and making 20,000 homeless, according to UN figures.
The state of siege also failed to prevent the murder of at least 55 people by gunmen on Monday, potentially the worst night of violence the area has seen in at least four years.
In late May, suspected jihadist militants killed at least 22 civilians with knives and machetes in an overnight raid on villages near the town of Beni in eastern DRC. Several more villagers are believed to have been kidnapped. The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan militia active in the area, has been blamed.
More than 1,200 civilians have been killed in Beni territory since November 2019, according to the Kivu Security Tracker.
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