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Dozens killed in DR Congo's Ituri province

Ethnic strife in nation's northeast claims dozens of lives in 48 hours after flight of tens of thousands since December.

A Congolese family

Ethnic strife in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has claimed dozens of lives in recent days, according to officials.

Local civil society leader Jean Bosco Lalu told Reuters news agency on Tuesday that at least 40 people had been killed in ethnic violence between Hema herders and Lendu farmers in Ituri province in the last 48 hours.

A government official said they had recorded 30 deaths, AFP news agency said.

"There are certainly other bodies out in the bush. A search is under way," a government official told AFP.

Willy Maese, deputy administrator in Djugu, said hundreds of homes were set on fire in an attack on two villages on Sunday.

At least 130 people have been killed in an outbreak of violence which started in Ituri in December.

Tens of thousands have fled the violence, including more than 27,000 who have crossed Lake Albert into Uganda.

In the second week of February alone, thousands arrived in Uganda by fishing boats or canoes each day amid reports that armed men had killed civilians and more than 1,000 houses had been burned down in Ituri's Djugu.

A decades-old conflict between the Hema and Lendu killed tens of thousands between 1998 and 2003. In recent years, the two groups have maintained a low-level conflict with occasional flare-ups in violence.

Last year, conflict forced 1.7 million people across the DRC to flee their homes.


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