Rebels attack a gold mine in eastern Congo, killing at least 12 people

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) —

At least a dozen people were killed and 16 kidnapped by rebels at a mining site in eastern Congo, said a civil society organization on Thursday.

Rebels from the CODECO armed group attacked a gold mine Wednesday near Djugu district in Ituri province, said Vital Tungulo, the head of Mabendi, a local rights group.

“We are outraged by this enemy attack,” he said.

Violence has been surging across eastern Congo, where conflict has flared for decades. More than 120 armed groups are fighting in the region, most for land and control of mines with valuable minerals, while some groups are trying to protect their communities.

CODECO is a loose association of militia groups mainly from the ethnic Lendu farming community. Since 2017, it has been fighting with Zaire, a self-defense group mainly drawn from the ethnic Hema herding 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.

CODECO is known to target areas rich in gold and minerals. In September, its fighters attacked a village in Ituri province, killing 14 people.

Congo has some of the world's largest deposits of rare earth minerals, such as cobalt and copper, which are in high demand for the manufacture of electric vehicles, wind turbines and solar panels.

On Thursday, military commander Yves Kadjena said he was disappointed by the attack, especially because CODECO signed a peace treaty with other militias at the end of January, pledging to stop fighting and release hostages.

Kadjena said the military was taking action to end the violence.