Several civilians have been killed by rebel fighters in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to the country’s army and civil society groups.
A spokesman for the DRC army told the AFP news agency that “more than a dozen” people have been killed in Saturday’s attack, while the Red Cross put the death toll at 24.
The Kivu Security Tracker (KST), which monitors violence in the region via a team of experts on the ground, said at least 27 civilians have died.
The killings took place in a village in the Beni region in North Kivu province, army spokesperson Anthony Mualushayi told AFP.
“We heard bullets at dawn in the village of Beu Manyama. When we arrived, it was already too late because the enemy ADF had already killed more than a dozen of our fellow citizens with machetes,” he said.
The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have been accused of killing thousands of civilians in DRC’s troubled east.
After the attack, soldiers pursued the attackers and “neutralised seven ADF” and captured another, Mualushayi said.
Local Red Cross head Philippe Bonane put the civilian death toll at 24.
The massacre comes after almost a month of relative calm in Beni, where the Congolese and Ugandan armies have been conducting joint military operations against the ADF since late November.
On Friday another Red Cross representative said that soldiers in the neighbouring Ituri province had found 17 decapitated bodies, also believed to be victims of the ADF.
More than 120 armed groups roam eastern DRC and civilian massacres are common.
Both the North Kivu and Ituri have been under a “state of siege” since May last year. The army and police have replaced senior administrators in a bid to stem attacks by armed groups.
Despite this, the authorities have been unable to stop the massacres regularly carried out against civilians.