A girl with her arm chopped off when militiamen attacked the village of Tchee, stands with her two-year-old sister in Bunia, Ituri, Democratic Republic of Congo, April 12, 2018. /VCG Photo
At least 50 people have been killed in violence in Ituri, a volatile province of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), governor Jean Bamanisa Saidi said Thursday.
"As of the day before yesterday, we had a figure of some 50 (dead), but it's true, we are aware that there are other cases," said the governor.
Other sources said the toll could be more than 70.
The fighting began last Friday and escalated on Monday, affecting the territory of Djugu north of the provincial capital of Bunia, and causing many people to flee their homes.
The cause of the flare-up was not immediately clear, but it occurred in a region where tens of thousands died in clashes between the Hema and Lendu ethnic groups between 1999 and 2003.
The deputy head of the UN peacekeeping force in the DRC, General Bernard Commins, said during a press conference on Wednesday the two communities had suffered fresh violence.
As many as 49 deaths had been recorded since the start of the week, and "all communities are in mourning," said Pilo Molondro, a Hema leader.
"We have recorded 40 deaths since Monday after a trader and his colleagues were killed. The toll could reach 60," said Joel Mande, the head of the Lendu community.
Yet according to one NGO, "more than 72 people were killed in around 10 localities in Djugu and Irumu" from Saturday to Tuesday alone.
The radio station run by the UN's MONUSCO, Okapi, said 38 people had been stabbed to death just in the village of Tche.
Ituri and the neighboring province of North Kivu on the DRC's eastern border are struggling to roll back an epidemic of Ebola that has claimed more than 1,400 lives since August 1 last year.
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