At least 19 civilians have been killed in the restive eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo at the weekend in attacks blamed on a notorious armed group, local officials said.
Nine people were kidnapped on Friday by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), and their bodies were found in the province of North Kivu, which borders Rwanda, regional administrator Donat Kibwana said on Sunday, adding that their burials were under way.
In the neighbouring Ituri region, ADF fighters attacked the village of Bukaka late on Saturday and killed 10 civilians, local official Bananilao Tchabi told AFP news agency.
Civil society leader Raphael Bon Benogo said the victims were five men, three women and two children. “Some were killed with machetes and others with firearms,” he said.
The ADF has been blamed for killing about 500 people since last year in retaliation for an army crackdown on their bases in the forests around the Beni region.
In another incident on Saturday in Fizi, in South Kivu province, gunmen from a “coalition of armed groups” attacked an army unit, killing two soldiers, a local army spokesman said.
Dozens of armed groups operate in eastern DRC, a legacy of the two Congo wars in the 1990s that pulled in neighbouring Uganda and Rwanda.
The army last year launched a campaign against the ADF after the group was blamed for dozens of attacks in the region, which also struggles with inter-ethnic fighting.
The ADF originated in neighbouring Uganda in the 1990s, opposed to the rule of long-serving Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
In 1995, it moved into the DRC, which became its base of operations, although it has not carried out attacks inside Uganda for years.