At least 40 civilians have been killed in an attack on a village in the restive east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a non-governmental organisation said.

"Up to this morning we have found more than 40 bodies, all of them civilians, in the latrines," Teddy Kataliko, the head of civil society in the Beni region where the attack took place on Wednesday, told AFP news agency on Thursday.

"Teams from the Red Cross and the police are searching to see if they find other victims."

The attack, which has been blamed on Ugandan rebels, also left "dozens" of people seriously wounded, he added.

The attack happened in the town of Kamango before dawn, with the civil society blaming it on the Ugandan rebel group ADF-Nalu, one of the oldest but least-known armed groups operating in DR Congo.

The UN's special force in DR Congo used helicopters on Wednesday to fire on the rebels and help government troops retake Kamango after the attack.

ADF-Nalu stands for Allied Democratic Forces-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda and is considered the only Islamist organisation in the region.

In July the Congolese army battled the ADF-Nalu rebels to take control of the Kamango region, but the fighting had sent tens of thousands of people fleeing for safety in neighbouring Uganda.

The United Nations has a thousands-strong force in DR Congo called MONUSCO which includes a 3,000-strong intervention brigade specially authorised to go after armed groups ravaging the country. There are another 17,000 peacekeepers mobilised in the overall mission.

The mission helped bring down the M23 rebel movement last month, which was suspected of receiving support from Rwanda and Uganda, something both countries deny.

Source: AFP