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.
“I am very sad but I’m not crying anymore as I want to tell these murderers that we are strong and dignified despite our pain.”
Janvier Kasahirio, the head of a local youth association, said: “We found the remains of our brothers in pieces,” adding that some of the victims had been burnt.
He said they found the bodies in the bush.
The victims were hacked to death with machetes on Wednesday, taking to 107 the number of people killed in and around Beni since November 5.
The vast majority of the killings have been carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a militia that has plagued the Democratic Republic of Congo’s east since the 1990s.
“I recognised my aunt from her clothes,” said Rosette Kashauri.
“Her face was barely recognisable. Her body was chopped up like the meat one sells in the market. I am sad and angry,” she said.
The massacres have sparked protests against the local United Nations peacekeeping mission, known by its French acronym MONUSCO.
The mood in the town was similar on Friday.
“It’s unthinkable that people kill the local population and that the young go to look for bodies while soldiers watch them,” said Moise Kakule.
A general shutdown was meanwhile 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.