Six Chinese nationals mining for gold killed in Congo militia attack

Commanders of the militia group Codeco walk through Linga village in Ituri province of Congo (Getty)
Commanders of the militia group Codeco walk through Linga village in Ituri province of Congo (Getty)

Six Chinese citizens were killed and several went missing after a local militia targeted a mining site in the Democratic Republic of Congo, authorities said on Thursday as the central African country continued to be wracked by widespread violence.

At least two and possibly three Congolese soldiers were also killed in the attack, which took place in the gold-rich Djugu territory in Ituri province.

The attack was carried out by a militia called Codeco, or Cooperative for the Development of the Congo, Djugu administrator Ruphin Mapela said.

A Red Cross representative in the region said the militiamen “entered the camp and killed six Chinese nationals and three soldiers”.

“They were killed with bullets," Dhekana Ernest said, adding that the corpses were taken to the city of Bunia.

An army spokesperson said the soldiers guarding the mining site shot dead at least six of the attackers.

Codeco is one of numerous militias engaged in deadly conflicts over land and mineral resources in eastern Congo.

The UN has accused it of carrying out possible war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The militia has killed hundreds of civilians in Ituri in recent years and forced thousands to flee their homes, according to the UN.

Codeco has also been blamed for killing many foreigners in the African nation.

Beijing condemned the attack on a “Chinese-funded private enterprise” which it said caused the death and disappearance of several Chinese citizens.

"We urge the DRC to pursue and punish the perpetrators in accordance with the law as soon as possible," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said. Beijing was working with Congolese authorities to locate the missing, she added.

Ms Ning urged Congo’s government to beef up security for Chinese people and enterprises in the country. "Those already in high-risk areas should be evacuated as soon as possible," she said.

Congo has granted mining concessions to many private Chinese operators that partner with local licence holders, providing funding and machinery and often bringing in Chinese workers.