At least 16 people killed when a boat caught fire in western Congo, as attacks rise in the east

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — At least 16 people were killed Monday when a boat caught fire on the Congo River, local officials said.

The boat was carrying fuel and was on its way to the city of Mbandaka from the eastern part of the capital, Kinshasa, said Papy Epiana, the provincial deputy. At least 11 people were rescued and it's unclear if more are missing.

The accident comes two days after a boat capsized also on the Congo River, killing at least 40 people.

Boat accidents are common on the Congo River and on the nation’s lakes because of the prevalent use of makeshift boats that are often overloaded. The majority of the population in the country’s northwest use the rivers to travel because of a lack of good roads and because it is less expensive.

The accidents in the country's west come amid rising insecurity in the conflict-riddled east.

At least 30 people were killed and their homes burned Sunday night in Rutshuru Territory in North Kivu province, according to local authorities.

The attack was perpetrated by the M23 rebel group, said Justin Kaleghesere, vice president for the Rutshuru Territory Youth Council.

The M23 rebel group, largely comprised of Congolese ethnic Tutsis, rose to prominence 10 years ago when its fighters seized Goma, eastern Congo’s largest city on the border with Rwanda. Its name derives from a March 23, 2009 peace deal, which it accuses the Congo government of not implementing. The rebel group was dormant for nearly a decade before resurfacing late last year.

Failed peace talks and broken cease-fires have led to continued violence that has displaced tens of thousands of people.

During Sunday's attacks, officials say victims were killed with machetes or shot when M23 launched attacks against the Wazalendo, a local self-defense group.


Kabumba reported from Goma