On the night of June 6 in Mutarule 2 – a small village in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s eastern Ruzizi plain – a group of unidentified armed men killed 37 people as they amassed for an evening prayer.
“People were gathering next to the fence. Many of them had already arrived when the shooting started,” said Captain Ramazani, as he walked through Mutarule 2 – now a ghost town.
“They were here. Many of them were shot, those who could escape left everything behind them. You see, there are shoes, pieces of fabric,” he pointed out.
The gunmen also ransacked a church in the village the same night, as well as a small clinic, killing a patient.
Situated along the Democratic Republic of Congo’s border with Burundi, the Ruzizi plain has long been plagued by violence between the region’s Bafuliro and Barundi communities.
Following the massacre in Mutarule 2, the village’s 10,000 inhabitants fled, hastily burying the bodies of those killed, most of whom belonged to the Bafuliro community.
Just two months later, tragedy struck again in the area, this time in the neighbouring village of Mutarule 1, where a Barundi family was shot dead in the middle of the night. Mathias Gahungu, a local chief, discovered their bodies.
“We found them here,” Gahungu said, standing in a dark room of a mud-walled house. “They were already dead. The bodies of the parents and the four children were here in the bedroom.
“The problems between the Bafuliro and the Barundi started after the Barundi chief was killed. The Bafuliro refuse to recognise the authority of the Barundi. They want the Barundi to leave the plain so that they can fully control the area.”
The conflict between the two communities has spread fear though the region, where many feel abandoned to their fate.
Neither the military nor the United Nation’s mission in DR Congo intervened on the night of the massacre in Mutarule 2, despite calls from residents for help. Since then, the UN has officially apologised, but none of those responsible for the killings have yet been arrested.
Date created : 2014-09-11