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DR Congo governor appeals for calm after Pygmy-Bantu clashes
DR Congo governor appeals for calm after Pygmy-Bantu clashes

But Richard Ngoyi Kitangala, the governor of Tanganyika, denied reports that there had been  "killings" in Muswaki, about 70 kilometres east of the provincial capital Kalemie.

World Bulletin / News Desk

Violent clashes between Pygmy and Bantu people have erupted once again in southeastern DR Congo, a provincial governor said Wednesday, appealing for calm.

Pygmies from the local Twa group have long complained of being marginalised, exploited and despised by Bantu people living in farming communities in the area, saying they are treated like second-class citizens.

"There are sporadic clashes between the Pygmies and Bantus in the region," the governor told AFP, speaking from Kalemie by telephone.

But he dismissed as "rumours" reports that Pygmies had attacked a Kalemie-bound train on Tuesday, prompting a deadly revenge attack the following day by Bantus.

"The situation is not as alarming as many would like to believe," Kitangala said.

On Wednesday, Colonel Felix-Prosper Basse, the spokesman for the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or MONUSCO, said he had received "unconfirmed" reports that up to 30 people had died in an attack staged by Pygmies.

Jose Bulabula, a local provincial secretary from President Joseph Kabila's ruling party, said he was in Muswaki on Tuesday on a personal visit when "Pygmies attacked a freight train going to Kalemie at 5 in the morning.

"There were deaths," he said, adding that the following day, "Bantus rallied and attacked the Pygmies."

A local official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said three bodies had been recovered from the side of the tracks on Thursday morning.

Gustave Kabezia, a doctor at a leading Kalemie hospital, said 17 people had been admitted with arrow wounds since Tuesday, one of whom had died on Thursday.

Due to the long simmering problems between the two peoples, the fighting in one of the world's poorest regions has degenerated, unleashing a cycle of revenge killings, looting and the burning of entire villages.

More than 200 people were reported dead in violence in 2014-2015 and tens of thousands fled fighting that pitted bows and arrows against machete blades.

Cohabitation has never been easy between the two communities, with the land-owning Bantus accused of exploiting the hunter-gatherers, paying them meagre wages, or paying them in alcohol and cigarettes for labouring the land.

In October, clashes between the two sides over a tax on harvesting caterpillars left 20 people dead. Caterpillars are a food staple for Pygmies. 

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Libya extremist group Ansar al-Sharia announces dissolution
Libya extremist group Ansar al-Sharia announces dissolution

The Libyan jihadist group Ansar al-Sharia, which is linked to Al-Qaeda and deemed a terrorist organisation by the UN and United States, announced its "dissolution" in a communique published online on Saturday. Washington accuses the group of being behind the September 11, 2012 attack on the US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi in which ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed. Ansar al-Sharia is one of the jihadist groups that sprung up in Benghazi, Libya's second largest city, in the chaos following the death of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011. They overran the city in 2014. East Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar earlier this month launched an offensive to oust jihadist fighters from their two remaining strongholds in Benghazi. In its communique Ansar al-Sharia said it had been "weakened" by the fighting. The group lost its leader, Mohammed Azahawi, in clashes with Haftar's forces in Benghazi at the end of 2014. Most of its members then defected to the so-called Islamic State group. Ansar al-Sharia later joined the Revolutionary Shura Council of Benghazi, a local alliance of Islamist militias. At its zenith, Ansar al-Sharia was present in Benghazi and Derna in eastern Syria, with offshoots in Sirte and Sabratha, western Libya. The organisation took over barracks and other sites abandoned by the ousted Kadhafi forces and transformed them into training grounds for hundreds of jihadists seeking to head to Iraq or Syria.