DRC: Family burned alive and children beheaded in brutal attack

Congolese soldiers stand guardREUTERS/Kenny Katombe

37 people were killed in another brutal attack in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Saturday, a regional director of Tearfund told Christian Today.

Militants arrived in the village of Oicha in Beni during the night, slaughtering over three dozen civilians – including women and children – with machetes.

"Unfortunately, there was another terrible massacre on Saturday night, and 37 bodies have been found so far," said David McAllister, country director for DRC at Tearfund

"It was what the French call 'arme blanche', no guns – only machetes and knives – and these attacks are getting more and more cruel."

Saturday's attack follows a brutal massacre last month in which over 100 women and children were killed near the town of Beni in the North Kivu province.

At the time, McAllister said the violence was likely to escalate, and Saturday's attack shows increased brutality. The chief of the village was burned alive – along with his wife and young children.

"We have known violence in Congo, we've had massacres before and machetes have been used before, but the level of brutality in these attacks is at a level even the Congolese are finding shocking. Reports of whole families being burned alive and children's bodies being found headless – there is consistent barbarity," he said.

"The population is in trauma and attacks are imminent everywhere, so people are frightened."

Last night, another seven people were killed in a separate attack in the same region. There has been speculation that Ugandan rebel group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) was behind these and a wave of similar attacks, but official communication from MUNUSCO, the UN's security organisation in the DRC, today held the group responsible for the first time.

"There is no military solution we can see on the horizon," McAllister said, adding that the attacks are happening in places where the army is not present.

"At this point in time, with the barbarity of attacks against these people, all we can do is gear up for helping more and more people, and keep our eyes fixed on that," he said.

"If I had any bright hope at the moment I would say so, but I would call for prayer, of course. That's the only thing we can do at this stage."

Historically a fractured nation, the DRC has been beset by violence for decades. Despite peace agreements, violence is rife, particularly in the eastern regions.