At least 34 civilians killed by militias in Congo

Local mediators from the Catholic church hope talks between the coalition and the main Opposition bloc may produce a deal by Friday so Kabila steps down after elections in late 2017.? Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo Dec 26, 2016, 03.24 AM (IST)

Militias killed at least 34 civilians over the weekend in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the army and local activists said.

The attacks have increased amid protests over President Joseph Kabila's refusal to step down at the end of his term on Tuesday. 

On Sunday, at least 13 Hutu civilians were killed by ethnic Nande militia in the eastern town of Nyanzale, in what appears to be a revenge attack for the deaths of Nande civilians last week, local activist Innocent Gasigwa said. 

"This must be the response for last time," Gasigwa added. 

 Nyatura, an ethnic Hutu militia, had attacked a nearby village on Thursday killing at least 17 civilians. 

On Saturday, 21 civilians and four militiamen were killed in attacks near Beni, local army spokesman Captain Mak Hazukay told Reuters.

Since October 2014, hundreds have been killed in attacks in Beni, 300 km north of Nyanzale. 

The government blames the Allied Democratic Force (ADF), a Ugandan Islamist group, for the attacks but analysts say Congolese soldiers are also involved. 

Around 40 people died during protests over Kabila's refusal to step down last week. The government said he will stay in power until an election is organised in 2018.

Local mediators from the Catholic church hope talks between the coalition and the main opposition bloc may produce a deal by Friday so Kabila steps down after elections in late 2017. 

(WION with inputs from Reuters)