Ten people were killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo's volatile east, an army spokesman said, adding that the military had intervened to restore order.

"We denounce the killing of 10 civilians and huts being torched," said Captain Guillaume Djike on Tuesday, adding that the violence broke out overnight in Kibirizi, about 85 kilometres (50 miles) north of Goma, the main city of the troubled Nord Kivu province.

Gaston Kakule, a resident of the area, blamed rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which is active in the area, of staging the attack.

Kakule said all those killed belonged to the Nande ethnic group, referring to a local tribe.

"The army intervened and re-established order," army spokesman Djike said.

The director of the Congo-based Center for Studies of Peace and Defense of Human Rights, Omar Kavota, told The Associated Press that the victims included a one-year-old child.

The victims were shot dead or decapitated by machetes in the attack by an armed group, he said.

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Dozens of people have been killed in the region in clashes between the Nandes and Congolese Hutus, whom the locals accuse of backing the Rwandan rebels.

The FDLR was set up by Rwandan Hutu refugees in eastern DR Congo after the 1994 genocide in their country which claimed 800,000 lives.

The group is accused of targeting moderate Hutus as well as people from the Tutsi minority and is regularly blamed for serious human rights violations against civilians in eastern DR Congo

The Congolese army last February announced a broad offensive against the FDLR, not just in Nord Kivu, but also in Sud Kivu and the northern part of Katanga province, in a bid to sweep the group clear of national territory.

The Rwandan government, however, accuses the Congolese authorities of doing nothing to tackle the rebels, whom Kigali presents as a major strategic threat even though the FDLR has not launched a major offensive on Rwandan soil in years.

Dozens of armed groups are active in North Kivu, where government troops have also been accused of preying on the civilian population.

Source: AFP