A civilian and a soldier were killed by a notorious armed Islamist group on Friday in the latest bloody fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s conflict-plagued east, a military source said.
The vast central African country’s government has placed the North Kivu and Ituri provinces under a state of siege since May 6 in a move aimed at stepping up the fight against armed groups.
The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which the US says is linked to the Islamic State group, is the deadliest of the militias in the region.
The army spokesman for the North Kivu city of Beni, Antony Mualushayi, said that the army had “neutralised” four ADF fighters on Friday morning.
“One brave soldier fell on the field,” he told the press. “Two civilians were hit by enemy bullets, one of them died at the scene”.
The fighting took place 25 kilometres (15 miles) east of Beni.
Further north in neighbouring Itui, ADF fighters set fire to a total of 10 vehicles on Wednesday and Thursday on a key national road, local civil society leader Dieudonne Malangay told AFP.
The authorities have restricted traffic to 8 am-4 pm on the vital trade route, which links North Kivu, Ituri, and Tshopo provinces, out of fear of attacks on unescorted vehicles.
Ituri army spokesman Jules Ngongo told AFP that five vehicles had been ambushed and torched by ADF fighters.
In a statement on its propaganda website, Islamic State said that “six vehicles of Christian miscreants were torched in an attack on a commercial road in Ituri.”
The fate of the passengers of the vehicles is not yet known.
A historically Ugandan Islamist group, the ADF has been active in the mineral-rich eastern Democratic Republic of Congo for 30 years.
The DRC’s Catholic Church says the ADF has killed around 6,000 civilians since 2013, while a respected US-based monitor, the Kivu Security Tracker (KST), blames it for more than 1,200 deaths in the Beni area alone since 2017.