Congolese troops killed 10 members of a rebel group accused of ethnic massacres in the restive east of the country and seriously wounded its commander, the military said on Thursday.
The fighters belonged to a local militia called the CODECO, based in Ituri province — one of scores of armed groups operating in the region.
Troops came under attack in the district of Djugu, the armed forces’ regional spokesman, Jules Ngongo, told AFP.
“During the combat, the rebel chief… was badly wounded,” he said.
“At present our troops are scouring the area until we find him dead or alive.”
Seven of the 10 killed were the commander’s bodyguards, he said, adding that a soldier had been wounded.
CODECO — whose official name is Cooperative for the Development of Congo — is an armed political-religious sect in Ituri drawn from the Lendu ethnic group.
Conflict erupted between the Lendu, mainly farmers, and the Hema, herders and traders, in the gold-mining and oil-rich province between 1999 to 2003, killing tens of thousands.
According to the UN, most victims were targeted because they were Hema.
The conflict has reignited and more than 700 people have been killed in Ituri since late 2017, a UN report said in January, adding that some of deaths might constitute a “crime against humanity.”
More than half a million people have been displaced by the violence since February 2018, the report said.