The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has reported that 41 locals were killed in attacks by suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels in Beni territory, North Kivu province, last week. This official number contradicts claims by locals and civil society groups, who reported that 82 people were killed during the attacks on several villages in the Baswgha-Madiwe Groupement between June 4-7, 2024.

According to a government statement released on Monday afternoon, the rebels attacked the localities of Masala, Mahihi, and Keme on the night of June 7, 2024. Of the 41 confirmed fatalities, 39 were killed in Mahihi and Masala, while two were killed in Keme. Additionally, nine other locals were seriously injured. The government condemned the attacks, describing them as cowardly and inhumane, and reaffirmed its commitment to fighting terrorism and protecting the civilian population. 

They also expressed condolences to the families of the deceased and the injured and pledged to take immediate measures to ensure the safety of citizens and bring the perpetrators to justice. However, the government’s report has raised skepticism among residents. Pascal Mulegwa, a resident, questioned the credibility of the government’s figures, noting that civil society groups and volunteers counted more than 80 bodies. 

Another resident, Abisai Muvunga, suggested that the government might have issued its statement under pressure and without accurate information from the ground. The ongoing joint operation SHUJJA by the forces of Uganda and the DRC has so far been unable to completely halt the ADF’s surprise and deadly attacks in both countries.

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