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Militia attack on a Congo gold mine kills 6 Chinese miners, 2 Congolese soldiers

A militia attack on a gold mine in northeastern Congo killed six Chinese miners and two Congolese soldiers, a civil society group said Thursday, the latest assault as violence worsens in the resource-rich region.

The attack on Wednesday targeted the village of Gambala and the nearby “Camp Blanquette” gold mine in the Ituri province, according to Jean Robert Basiloko, a member of a local civil society group. A militia known as the Cooperative for the Development of the Congo, or CODECO, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Eastern Congo has been torn by decadelong fighting between government forces and more than 120 armed groups, often involving bombs targeting civilians as the militias seek a share of the region’s gold and other resources. Violence in the region has worsened in recent months as security forces battle the militias.

On Wednesday, the militiamen set homes ablaze and then attacked the mine, which is guarded by a competing armed group, the Zaire Militia, Basiloko told The Associated Press.

They attackers killed six Chinese miners and two Congolese troops, he added, and abducted two other miners, whose whereabouts remain unknown.

CODECO and the Zaire Militia are involved in a complex conflict, mixing economic ambitions and power struggles. The Zaire Militia, a dissident faction of CODECO, fiercely opposes its former allies.

CODECO is a loose association of militia groups mainly from the ethnic Lendu farming community. Attacks by CODECO killed nearly 1,800 people and wounded more than 500 in the four years through 2022, according to the African Center for the Study and Research on Terrorism.

The United Nations has said some of the attacks could constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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