Suspected members of an armed group have killed nine civilians in an attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo‘s troubled east, according to government officials and the military.
The massacre occurred overnight in the town of Oicha, in the Beni region of DR Congo, local administrator Donat Kibwana told the AFP news agency on Tuesday.
The assailants were suspected members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an armed group blamed for hundreds of killings since 2014.
“They entered Oicha late at night, they pillaged and made off with farm animals. We lost nine people in the attack,” Kibwana said.
The death toll was confirmed separately by military spokesperson Mak Hazukay.
“The ADF got around our position and carried out their dirty work in eastern Oicha… there are nine civilians dead,” he said.
Local teacher Prospere Kasereka said, “The ADF arrived in my area around 7:30pm. They started looting, smashing down doors and firing guns.”
“I fled when they got in my house. I saw the bodies of nine inhabitants this morning,” Kasereka said.
The ADF is a group that arose in western Uganda in 1995 under the leadership of Jamil Mukulu, a Christian-turned-Muslim.
Forced out of Uganda, it operates in the border area in the DRC’s North Kivu province, an area where other armed groups are also active.
It has been blamed for recruiting and using child soldiers, killing hundreds of civilians since 2014, as well as 15 Tanzanian peacekeepers who died in an attack in December 2017.
In the past month, 47 deaths in Beni have been attributed to the ADF, including seven United Nations peacekeepers who were killed in an operation against the group, according to an AFP report.
The violence has cast a shadow over efforts to roll back an outbreak of Ebola in eastern DR Congo. It could hamstring efforts to hold presidential and legislative elections in the region on December 23, the UN said.