The Democratic Republic of Congo town of Oicha on Friday buried 27 victims of the latest massacre in the country’s volatile east, with hundreds paying homage while lashing out at security forces for failing to stop attacks.
Mourners gathered in silence around the tiny morgue of Oicha, located near the Ugandan border and east of the DRC town of Beni, the scene of repeated deadly strikes.
Workers wore face masks as they wrapped the decomposing corpses in shrouds. They were barefoot in line with local tradition out of respect for the deceased.
Wooden crosses marked the graves and many wept as the bodies were lowered.
During the mass funerals, gunfire broke out from the nearby bush but it was unclear who was firing.
“My neighbour, who was my son’s mother-in-law, had her throat slit and was then cut up,” said Kahindo Kamabu, a woman in her fifties.
On Friday, a DR Congo soldier was killed by civilians who mistook him for an ADF fighter, the army and a local official said.
The soldier opened fire as he saw local youth approaching him, before running out of ammunition, local leader Donat Kibwana added.
A general shutdown was observed in Oicha as well as in Goma, the main city in DRC’s east, in solidarity with the beleaguered residents of Beni and Oicha
The UN refugee agency meanwhile said there was an exodus of locals from Oicha to Beni, about 30 kilometres (20 miles) away.
“Alarming reports from the region suggest people being trapped and under threat from the armed groups, with daily reports of loss of life,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said on Friday.
“Abductions and attacks on schools, health centres and indigenous communities are also on the rise,” it said.
“Information is difficult to verify, as the movement of humanitarian workers is restricted due to insecurity around the city and in the territory of Beni, as a result of violence.”