AFRICA/DR CONGO - After the conflicts in the east of the country, instability in the west which is approaching the capital

Tuesday, 16 May 2023 armed groups   displaced persons  

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - The latent conflict in the west of the Democratic Republic of Congo is worsening, reaching areas not far from the capital, Kinshasa.
Between May 11 and 13, the "Mobondo" militia of the Yaka community was accused of having attacked some villages in the province of Kwango, starting with Nguma, 75 kilometers from Kinshasa, and then spreading to that of Batshongo (located on the border between Kwango and Kinshasa provinces) and other villages located along National Route 1 which connects these areas with Kinshasa. The army has managed to regain control of this important artery, restoring connections with the capital. At least eleven people died in the two-day fighting, including several beheaded soldiers. The number is increasing, since a few days later the bodies of two civilians murdered at the scene of the clashes were found.
The Kwango provincial government is trying to regain control of the situation by tightening security measures in the region.
Army and police patrols have been strengthened to prevent the escalation of violence. The new attacks, following last Sunday's one, also attributed to the Mobondo militia, which had caused the death of 9 people in Yosso, in the province of Kinshasa, caused the flight of the local population, increasing the number of displaced people in this area.
Local sources report villages completely emptied of their inhabitants, while reception centers in Kenge and Pont Kwango are overcrowded. One of the villages attacked, Batshongo, housed displaced people from other previously attacked villages, so these people have had to flee again with the rest of the population. The displaced lack assistance, some are even scattered through the forest.
On May 13, the military court of Bandundu, Bagata and Maï-Ndombe sentenced 15 defendants for participating in the actions of the "Mobondos", 9 of them to death "by terrorism" and the other 6 to 20 years in prison "for acts of looting".
The "Mobondo" militiamen are accused of having taken part in the violence that has been taking place for almost a year in the province of Maï-Ndombe, between the Yaka and Teke communities (see Fides, 29/9/2022). The conflict has so far caused the deaths of at least 300 people, according to data from Human Rights Watch. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 16/5/2023)