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More than a dozen vehicles set on fire in latest eastern DRC attack blamed on the Allied Democratic Forces armed group.

Many people are feared missing in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) after attackers ambushed a convoy and set fire to more than a dozen vehicles.

The attack on Wednesday morning took place close to the town of Ofai, the Kivu Security Tracker (KST), a United States-based monitor of violence in the region said on Twitter, adding that “the final death toll is as yet unknown.”

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but Jean-Paul Ngahangondi, a member of the Ituri province’s parliament, blamed the assault on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an armed group accused of killing thousands of people in recent years.

Attacks by the ADF and dozens of other armed groups operating in the region have continued unabated despite the government’s declaration of martial law in Ituri and neighbouring North Kivu province at the beginning of May.

The installation of army generals as provincial governors was meant to quell a surge in violence that the military largely attributes to the ADF, but the number of civilians killed in such attacks has further increased since then, according to KST.

“The ADF rebels cut the convoy in half,” local civil society official Dieudonne Malangayi told the AFP news agency of Wednesday’s ambush, adding that the attack had left three dead while 13 vehicles were torched.

A military official in the region who requested anonymity said ADF rebels set fire to 14 vehicles.

Government spokesman Patrick Muyaya also told the Reuters news agency that ADF fighters had set fire to 14 cars and two minibuses in Ituri. He did not specify the number of people wounded or missing.

Ngahangondi, the local lawmaker, said about 80 people were feared missing and criticised what he said was the army’s slow response to the attack, a frequent complaint of local people.

“The army just waits for the rebels to kill the population and only then pursues them without any positive results,” he told Reuters. “We need to see the army launch a good offensive against the ADF instead of playing defence every time.”

Eastern DRC’s borderlands with Uganda and Rwanda have been plagued by violence since regional wars around the turn of the century in which millions of people died, mostly from hunger and disease.

Since April 2019, the ISIL (ISIS) group has claimed responsibility for some of the ADF attacks, and in March this year, Washington placed the ADF on a list of “terrorist organisations” affiliated with ISIL.

United Nations experts, however, have said they have not found conclusive evidence that ISIL has control over ADF operations.

Source: Al Jazeera

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