Suspected fighters of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have killed 16 people in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in attacks that took place as a joint operation by Congolese and Ugandan forces against the armed group is currently under way.
Local officials said on Friday the attacks took place late on Wednesday in the rural commune of Mangina and nearby Masiriko in the DRC’s North Kivu province.
Freddy Mbayayi, deputy mayor of Mangina, told Reuters news agency an unknown number of people had also been kidnapped during the attack.
Resident Pelka Josaphat said four family members had been abducted as people were being killed with machetes. “It was horrible to see mothers, children and elderly people fleeing the cruelty of the ADF,” Josaphat told Reuters.
Local officials said the attackers belonged to the ADF, which the United States has linked to ISIL (ISIS) and is one of the most dangerous armed groups roaming the mineral-rich eastern DRC.
Last month, Ugandan authorities also blamed the ADF for deadly suicide bombings in the capital, Kampala. The November 16 attack killed at least four people and wounded dozens more.
Uganda and the DRC have since launched joint military operations against the ADF, with Ugandan forces mounting air and artillery raids against the group’s bases and sending thousands of troops across the border.
Uganda has promised to stay as long as necessary to defeat the ADF, but the intervention has alarmed some Congolese, who recall Uganda’s plundering of their resources during the DRC’s second civil war that raged from 1998 to 2003.
The ADF was founded in Uganda in 1995 and later moved to the DRC where it is among dozens of armed groups seeking control over territory and mineral resources in the east of the country.