By Erikas Mwisi Kambale
BENI, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) – Members of an Islamist militia freed about 20 prisoners during an attack in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province, a local chief and the head of a local humanitarian group said on Wednesday.
The attack occurred Tuesday evening in the small town of Nobili near the Ugandan border, they said. At least three people, including a child and a pregnant woman, were killed by gunshot and during an ensuing stampede as people tried to flee.
Witnesses and an army spokesman blamed the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan armed group active in eastern Congo since the 1990s, which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State.
Congo imposed martial law in North Kivu and neighbouring Ituri province last year and began joint operations with Uganda’s army in November against the ADF.
“The ADFs who are responsible for this incursion freed all the detainees in the jail and left with them into the bush,” said Odette Zawadi, president of a local humanitarian group for the area of Watalinga, adding that three people died.
The Ugandan and Congolese armies intervened, which limited the damage, she said. Chief Mwami Pascal Saambili of Watalinga gave the same information and said four people died.
“We repelled an ADF attack yesterday in Nobili. We deplore the loss of human life, but we reassure the population that we are determined during this state of siege to impose peace in this zone,” said army spokesman Captain Antony Mwalushae.
He did not mention the jailbreak.
Prison breaks are fairly common in Congo. In 2020 armed men suspected of belonging to the ADF freed more than 1,300 prisoners in the eastern city of Beni. https://www.reuters.com/article/ozatp-uk-congo-crime-idAFKBN2751R8-OZATP
(Reporting by Erikas Mwisi Kambale; Writing by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Mark Heinrich)