A prominent Catholic priest in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been murdered by armed men thought to be government soldiers.
The attack on Fr Vincent Machozi is thought to be in connection with his high-profile advocacy for poor and dispossessed people in Congo and particularly of the Nande people, also known as the Yira. The region is rich in coltan, a mineral used in the manufacture of mobile phones, and armed groups – including the DRC army – exploit the local people to make huge profits from trading in it. Machozi denounced atrocities against them, which included beheadings, describing their treatment as 'genocide'.
According to benilubero.com, the website of which Machozi was editor-in-chief, soldiers stormed the social centre in the village of Butembo and targeted Machozi, who was heard to call out, "Why are you killing me?"
Machozi had previously been forced to flee to the US in 2003, and returned to DRC in 2012.
He was well aware of the risk to his life, having escaped seven previous assassination attempts since his return.
He was born in 1965 and was ordained a priest in Angers, France, in 1994. He taught at the seminary in DRC's capital Kinshasa and earned a doctorate at Boston University in conflict resolution.
According to Rev Emmanuel Kahindo, the vicar general of the Assumptionist order and a fellow Congolese, Machozi told him last October: "My days are numbered. I will be murdered, I feel it... but like Christ, for the sake of our people, I will not be silent."
Quoted on the Crux website, Kahindo said Machozi told him: "I will continue my fight to the end and continue to condemn all those who sow division and hatred between ethnic groups in the region to rule and continue to exploit the riches."