powerful supporters of the security forces accused of complicity in the brutal attacks of the militia of the Democratic Republic of Congo
early Sunday morning last summer, residents Epulu awakened by the sound of gunshots and screaming. In the eastern parts of the DRC, which can often mean a new round of ethnic violence and murder is ongoing. In this case, however, something more terrible was going on.
The village was attacked by a militia feared. In this case, the gunmen were motivated not by tribal rivalries, but by land, gold and ivory. The village is located in a nature reserve in the Ituri Forest, an area of ??5,000 square miles, which is supposed to be beyond the reach of hunters and prospectors. The militia, led by former poacher Sadala an elephant named Paul, has terrorized communities within the reserve since 2012, employing brutal methods horrific, even by the standards of this part of the world.
"The attacks were absolutely horrible," said Justin Oganda, a representative of the residents who remain displaced Epulu Mambasa, about 50 miles away. At the end of that day in June, the militants had killed, raped, burned people alive and even ate the flesh and the heart of one of his victims. "After killing so many people, burn them alive, cannibalism ... Mentally can not be normal, "he added Oganda.
As always with the Congo, and not just a simple story of victims and villains. Sadala, who goes by the nom de guerre of Morgan and Morgan "Mai-Mai" gunmen are believed to have powerful allies in the security forces who allow their lucrative illegal ivory smuggling and gold. Some local people with an eye on gold for the earth beneath your feet tacitly supporting Morgan, who also unlikely likes to be called Chuck Norris.
"There is complicity between [Morgan] and elements of the army," said Jefferson penis Mbaka Abdallah, Vice Mambasa. "With the support of the military authorities determined [Mai Mai Morgan] increased poaching. Ivory sale is organized by the figures of the army. "Many in the region believe that soldiers have orders not to arrest Morgan.Morgan
main objectives is to operate and monitor the Unesco World Heritage recognized heritage known as Okapi Wildlife Reserve, or by its French acronym, RFO. Laws prohibit the hunting of endangered species, especially elephants and okapi, and the exploitation of its gold reserves.
rangers headquarters in Epulu, those targeted in June. "His goal was to kill all the guards, but escaped most of us," said Captain Benjamin Kalimutima Lulimba salon Epulu rangers. "They killed two guards and Badus Son, and the wife of a guardian appointed Amisi. Badus and woman tied Amisi, put in a tire and burned alive. Then cut and ate part of his leg Son, and gives the heart and ate it. "
A militia group then stopped and went to the zoo okapi in the compound of Rangers. The zoo was established 25 years ago to house a small number of species endangered okapi shy and are the familiar image of a varied fauna of Congo. Morgan's men killed 13 of the 14 Okapi there and seriously injured 14, so later died of his injuries. Rosmarie Ruf for, an ecologist with Gilman International Conservation (GIC) and co-founder of the zoo, it was an abrupt end to the work of a lifetime. "Twenty years of work has been done," said Ruf, sitting empty pen okapi feet as the river passed Epulu. "All these efforts, all this money. 'S My life was ... I do not want to ruin, but now I'm standing here in front of the blue."
The suspicion is that at least part of the spoils of Morgan winds up to 280 miles southwest Epulu in the hands of the Congolese army. At the end of 2012, the group of United Nations experts on the Congo issued a report accusing the Congolese general Jean-Claude Kifwa in the provincial capital, Kisangani, to give "weapons, ammunition, uniforms and equipment communication Mai Mai Morgan ivory trade. "
Kifwa has strongly denied any involvement in the militia, but one of the fighters Morgan, captured and imprisoned in the district capital, Bunia, confirmed the trade figures in Kisangani. "Morgan sent gold and ivory in Kisangani and weapons came from there," said Basomaka Abundu, who participated in the attack on Mambasa Morgan in January.
Despite the brutality of these attacks, many residents of the reserve has expressed sympathy for Morgan, and some support, even openly confessing to him. "I'm behind Morgan," said a young man of 18 who lives in a small village not far from Epulu who refused to give his name. "Because this is the ranger Morgan can not control and we are free to digging for gold. But would it support so I came here and burned our houses. "
WCS and ICG guards led to accusations that are partly responsible for the militarization of the conflict. However, Mwinyihali said the biggest problem was the lack of an effective response of the Congolese state, which means that NGOs and the rangers had to fill the roles that should be the responsibility of the government: for example, to armed guards Morgan plot. Iyatshi lyomi Bernard, director of the rangers, complained of the lack of government funding for their anti-poaching.