GOMA – Two men were burnt alive Saturday by civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s volatile east after they attacked a military office, a local official said.
The incident in the town of Beni, about 250 kilometres (150 miles) north of the North Kivu capital Goma, followed an attack on Friday night.
“The military prosecutor’s offices were attacked at around 9:00 pm by men whose identities are not yet clear,” Beni’s mayor Bwanakawa Nyonyi told AFP.
“They were repulsed by the army,” he said, adding that two of the attackers were found by locals at a nearby plot early Saturday and “were burnt alive while three others are in the hands of the army.”
A military spokesman confirmed the attack on the office but did not give details.
Beni, a major trade centre in the area, has been wracked by violence and unrest over the past two decades with both local and foreign armed groups operating in the region.
The Congolese army (FARDC), the large UN mission deployed in the troubled country (MONUSCO) and several diplomats blame a recent wave of attacks in the Beni region on a mainly Muslim rebel movement from neighbouring Uganda, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
MONUSCO soldiers stand near a UN armored vehicle in Beni
Recent massacres in Beni have claimed more than 260 lives since October, according to local sources.
Driven out of Uganda by the army of President Yoweri Museveni, the ADF has maintained bases in the eastern DRC since 1995 and is currently estimated to number about 400 fighters.
The Congolese army tried to wipe out the ADF this year, but after initial successes in an offensive, the FARDC troops fell back and the Ugandan rebels reasserted control.
Residents of the Beni region have protested at the perceived inaction and incompetence of the army and the UN soldiers.
With around 20,000 men, including a special brigade, MONUSCO has a mandate to protect civilians and to neutralise armed groups that have emerged in the east over more than 20 years.