At least 33 killed in east DR Congo including civilians in clashes

At least 33 people were killed following a militia attack on a town in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a respected monitor said Saturday, raising an earlier reported death toll.

Kivu Security Tracker, the monitor, tweeted that at least 33 people – including militia members and civilians – had died following an attack by the notorious CODECO militia on Mongbwalu in Ituri province.

It did not specify how many of the dead were civilians, however.

The death toll raises an earlier reported death toll of 22 people killed during the attack on Mongbwalu town.

Town mayor Jean-Pierre Bikilisende earlier this week told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that 22 dead bodies were discovered following clashes between the militants and Congolese troops.

Fourteen civilians and eight militants were killed, he said, explaining that CODECO members had been staging attacks since Tuesday in a bid to free fellow fighters captured by Congolese security forces.

AFP could not independently confirm the death toll from this week's attack.

The CODECO – the Cooperative for the Development of the Congo – is a political-religious sect that claims to represent the interests of the Lendu ethnic group.

It is considered one of the deadliest of the more than 120 militias operating in the troubled east of the country and has been blamed for a number of ethnic massacres in Ituri.

Last year, Congo's government put security officials in charge of Ituri and neighboring North Kivu province in a bid to curb violence, but the attacks continue.