March 2, 2018 / 4:03 PM / 4 months ago

Ethnic clashes in northeastern Congo kill about 30 - vice-governor

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo, March 2 (Reuters) - E thnic clashes between Hema herders and Lendu farmers in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ituri province have killed about 30 people, the provincial vice-governor said on Friday, in the second such incident in a month.

Tensions between the two groups have largely laid dormant since a 1998-2003 war, when thousands died in fighting between the two groups, but have flared again in recent months due to disputes over land.

At least 30 people were killed in two days of clashes last month between armed Hema and Lendu.

Militia activity has increased across eastern Congo’s borderlands with Uganda and Rwanda in the past year, stoked in part by President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down at the end of his constitutional mandate in December 2016.

“We have received different numbers, but it is about 30,” Ituri vice-governor Pacifique Keta told Reuters of Thursday’s clashes, which continued into Friday morning.

Local army spokesman Jules Ngongo could not yet provide a death toll but said Congolese forces had intervened to separate the two sides.

“It was a case of reprisals by the two communities,” he said. “According to our information, there were cases of people being decapitated.”

Millions of people died in eastern Congo’s wars around the turn of the century, mostly from hunger and disease. Dozens of armed militia continue to operate there, preying on local populations and exploiting reserves of minerals and other resources. (Reporting By Fiston Mahamba; Additional reporting by Amedee Mwarabu Writing by Aaron Ross Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

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