By News Desk
Two soldiers and 33 militiamen were killed in fighting Friday with the Congolese army in the country’s gold-rich northeastern province of Ituri, the army said Saturday.
The government army (FARDC) fought the Cooperative For the Development of Congo (CODECO) militia in the towns of Dyaro, Dala, Lipri and Cheibi in Djugu, an army spokesman in Ituri Lt. Jules Ngongo told reporters.
Fighting erupted when the militia tried to invade the towns from where they have been hiding for several days before Saturday
Without specifying numbers, the spokesperson said some FARDC soldiers had been wounded.
The army seized several weapons from the militia, including five AK-47 weapons and two PKM-branded heavy weapons, he said.
The presence of CODECO attackers had been reported earlier in the week in several locations in Djugu, according to local media reports.
The army also foiled another militia attack on Friday in the village of Dala, about 40 kilometers north of Bunia, Ngongo said.
In the village of Cheibi, no casualties were seen on either side but the army managed to dislodge the gunmen who had invaded the town, Ngongo added, noting that operations are ongoing to restore peace in Djugu.
More than 200 CODECO militiamen accused of atrocities surrendered to government forces in January during a crackdown on armed groups in the country’s volatile east.
The army launched an offensive in January against militias operating in the gold-rich northeastern province of Ituri as part of a wider operation launched last October.
The army has appealed to other militias to assemble at a transit site to avoid being pursued.
Several areas formerly occupied by the militias have reportedly been recaptured by government forces.