Carly Nzanzu Kasivita, the governor of North Kivu, said that the attack had taken place in an area where the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda had been operating for a long time, but that investigations were continuing. The group is one of the largest foreign armed groups in the country, a rebel group with links to 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
“According to initial investigations, they were killed by a group of six people who spoke Kinyarwanda,” the governor said in a telephone interview, referencing the language spoken in Rwanda.
The convoy was headed from Goma to Rutshuru, a town about 45 miles north, on a route that would have taken the vehicles through Virunga National Park, though it is unclear where exactly the attack occurred. The World Food Program said that a number of other people were injured in the attack.
The attack comes as a wave of violence has engulfed the area in recent weeks, with a deadly attack by a different militia in Virunga National Park leaving six people dead last month.
Virunga, Africa’s first national park and a Unesco World Heritage site, is known as the home of the region’s famed, and endangered, mountain gorillas. But the North Kivu region has also been the scene of regular violence, as spillover from the conflict between the government and militia groups, as well as the fallout of neighboring conflicts, have played out there.
Last year, 17 people were killed in another attack in Virunga, one of the deadliest in the park in recent years, which was also believed to have been carried out by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda.
In the years since it gained independence in 1960, after a brutal colonial period, the Democratic Republic of Congo has been wracked by civil wars and for decades by the rule of a succession of corrupt dictators.