Two groups of monitors have said that nearly 200 civilians were killed in violence last month in two volatile provinces in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The killings took place in the eastern part of the country which has become well known for its lawlessness and difficulties in containing violent acts.
The monitoring organizations said this latest death toll in the North and South Kivu provinces is the highest since June 2017.
Named the Kivu Security Tracker, it is a joint project of the Congo Research Group, based at New York University’s Center on International Cooperation, and Human Rights Watch.
In their report they said “Armed groups and security forces killed at least 197 civilians over the course of the last 31 days of 2019.”
The report also said last month “was the deadliest month for civilian deaths ever recorded by the Kivu Security Tracker since its creation in June 2017.”
It added that majority of the deaths occurred in the restive Beni region, with 120 victims killed “in attacks mostly attributed to the Islamist rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).”
The report added that in addition to “the Beni crisis, a new deadly front was opened with the Congolese military offensive against the Rwandan Hutu uprising by the National Council for Renewal and Democracy (CNRD).”
“This attack successfully led to the rebellion retreating from the bases it had occupied since early 2019.
“But many civilians were also killed, mostly among rebel fighters’ families. KST has been able to confirm the violent deaths of at least ten non-combatants,” the report said.
Meanwhile the United Nations’ top human rights official has called on the DR Congo government to take action to curb human rights violations by the country’s army.
Michelle Bachelet told UN radio that there are indications the military and agents of the state were behind more than half of the violations in the country.