By Godfrey Olukya
KAMPALA,Uganda (AA) - Nearly 700 people have been killed by armed groups in Democratic Republic of Congo since May, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said.
The killings occurred between May 6 to Sept. 10 in the country's eastern part, the conflict-ridden provinces of Ituri and North Kivu, where the government troops launched operation against the rebels.
"Various armed groups, some unidentified, have killed at least 672 civilians, while Congolese security forces have killed 67 civilians, in Ituri and North Kivu provinces," said HRW in a release, including Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
It cited data collected by the Kivu Security Tracker, a joint project of Human Rights Watch and the Congo Research Group.
“The Congolese government may recognize the need for greater security in Ituri and North Kivu provinces, but imposing martial law hasn’t accomplished that,” said Thomas Fessy, senior Congo researcher at Human Rights Watch.
“Despite the government’s efforts to spin its actions as military successes, many people across eastern Congo still live in constant fear of the next massacre,” he added.
He has urged the country’s president, Felix Tshisekedi to focus on the protection of civilians in that region.
In a related development, eight people were killed by ADF rebels and over 30 houses set on fire on Thursday.
The incident took place in Mutendero village in North Kivu, according to a security officer in Ituri province, Lieutenant Hebert Kasongo.
Hundreds of people have fled that village and those in the neighborhood, Kasongo told Anadolu Agency.