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Who’s behind the massacres in Congo’s Beni region?

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The official explanation for a two-year wave of massacres in a restive corner of DR Congo centres on a shadowy rebel group accused of having ties to the global jihadist underground. But some basic details about the alleged killers of more than 700 victims — the latest over the Christmas weekend — haven’t quite convinced observers and experts. The truth, they say, is more complicated and may lead all the way to the halls of power in the vast, mineral-rich and chronically unstable central African nation. UN experts, referring to the claimed jihadist links in past reports, have simply stated: “There is no proof of this allegation.”

But that has not stopped the Democratic Republic of Congo’s leadership and the UN peacekeeping mission MONUSCO from blaming the bloodbath around the town of Beni, in the country’s strife-torn northeast, on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). Secrecy shrouds the group, which is dominated by hardline Ugandan Muslims who were initially focused on overthrowing Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni. The group went on to absorb other rebel factions into its ranks and started carrying out attacks in 1995. Gradually pushed westwards by the Ugandan army, the ADF relocated most of its activities to DR Congo.

When the Beni massacres started in October 2014, with most of the victims hacked to death, the ADF was quickly branded the culprit by both Congolese authorities and MONUSCO. More than two years on, the government and the UN have been unable to protect civilians from the attacks, and the ADF remains the only official explanation — with Kinshasa insisting on a jihadist link to the killings.

- Army troops involved? -

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