GOMA, Congo (AP) — At least 15 people were killed in eastern Congo after a group of children brought home an explosive device that they had found while they were playing, a community leader said Saturday.
The tragedy took place Friday evening in the village of Kyangitsi, located in Masisi territory in North Kivu province.
“At around 8 p.m. local time, while some of the residents were trying to find out what it was, the bomb exploded,” said Telesphore Mitondeke, a member of a Masisi grouping of civil society organizations.
For the past two weeks, the region has been the scene of hostilities between local armed groups vying for control of villages.
Many localities already have fallen under the control of the “Wazalendo” patriot self-defense forces. According to local community leaders, part of the strategic town of Kitshanga is now in the hands of the young patriots, who have managed to dislodge the M23 rebels.
The ongoing clashes have caused panic among the population, prompting many civilians to flee. Mitondeke said the area “is littered with numerous explosive devices abandoned and booby-trapped by fighters.”
Associated Press writer Jean-Yves Kamale in Kinshasa, Congo, contributed.