16, May 2017
More than 500 people have been killed during heavy fighting between government forces and tribal militia in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) over the past two months, the army says. “DRC’s armed forces have been waging operations to back up the police since end March in Kasai,” the army’s Brigadier General Leon-Richard Kasonga told a news conference on Monday.
According to Kasonga, there were 390 tribal militia fighters and 124 government forces among those killed in the violence gripping the country’s central Kasai region “Our troops respect international humanitarian law and human rights… we have acted professionally,” said Kasonga, without providing a civilian death toll. The unrest was triggered by the killing of tribal chief Jean Pierre Mpandi, also known as Kamwina Nsapu, by army troops last August. The tribal leader had launched an uprising against President Joseph Kabila.
The Kamuina Nsapu uprising has become the most serious threat to the administration of Kabila, whose refusal to step down following a defeat in the latest polls sparked chaos in the vast central African country. Kabila’s presidential term expired on December 19, 2016, but ruling officials have effectively prolonged his mandate until 2018, claiming that the government would not be able to arrange elections before then.