Twenty killed in clashes over Pygmies' caterpillar tax in Congo

About 20 people have been killed in three days of clashes between members of a Pygmy and of a Bantu ethnic group in south-eastern Congo, local officials said Tuesday.

The clashes started Sunday in Kabalo after Twa women refused to pay a tax to members of the Luba, a Bantu ethnic group, said Christian Mafwele Mungiya, an official tasked with development of the area.

The Luba had earlier collected taxes on the Twa's harvests of caterpillars, one of their staple foods. The Twa started protesting against the tax, saying it was illegal.

Militiamen from both sides were involved in the clashes, Mungiya said.

The area in northern Katanga province has seen occasional clashes between the Luba and the Twa in recent years.

The Luba are one of the largest ethnic groups in Congo, while the Twa make up just 1 per cent.

Surviving partially on hunting and gathering fruit, the Twa have suffered systematic discrimination, such as being denied fair working conditions, access to land and basic services, according to human rights activists.

Last update: Tue, 18/10/2016 - 19:09
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