Suspected Ugandan rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have hacked 36 people to death with machetes and axes,authorities said.
The attack took place overnight in the village of Oicha in the area of Beni in the North Kivu province, reports said on Sunday.
More than 250 people have been killed since October in attacks in the area, which follow a similar pattern: the assailants arriving at night armed with machetes and slaughtering residents, including women and children.
The Allied Democratic Forces and National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF-NALU) rebels have been blamed for the attacks.
Jean-Baptiste Kamabu, Beni town chief, told the AFP news agency the assailants wielded machetes and axes.
He said two people were wounded and another two were abducted, AFP reported.
Celestin Ngeleka, spokesman of a military operation against armed groups in the region, confirmed the death toll after troops carried out a search for victims.
“We deplore the carnage of 36 compatriots,” he said.
Radio Okapi, a UN-run radio channel based in Kinshasa, said that a non-governmental organisation (NGO) based in Beni, known as Civil Society of North Kivu, declared two days of mourning throughout Beni, starting on Monday.
The NGO also called on the DRC army and UN peacekeepers to increase their efforts to restore order to the region.
It said in a statement it was “extremely shocked by yet another massacre.”
Residents have repeatedly denounced what they see as passivity from DR Congo troops and UN peacekeepers in the face of the massacres.
In October, 22 people were hacked and clubbed to death in Beni, prompting the country’s defence minister to urge panic-striken civilians in the country’s east not to form militias to protect themselves.
Eastern DRC is home to a myriad of armed groups and militias, many vying for control of the region’s vast mineral resources.
The ADF-NALU rebel group have been pillaging the area from their hidehouts in the Ruwenzori mountains that straddle the border with Uganda since being driven out of the country in 1995.
The UN peacekeeping force is authorized to battle the rebels groups but has been criticised for doing too little to protect civilians.