Suspected militiamen have killed at least 18 people in a village raid in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo on Sunday night, local sources said, while fighting resumed with the M23 rebel group in a neighbouring province.
Fighters believed to be from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) killed residents and burned down houses in the village of Otomabere, in Irumu territory, Ituri province, said a witness, a local chief and a local human rights group.
DRC army spokesman Jules Ngongo confirmed the ADF attack without giving a death toll and said Congolese forces were in pursuit of the assailants.
“We were chatting with some friends outside (when) we heard gunshots, and everyone fled in a different direction. It was total panic,” said Kimwenza Malembe, a resident of Otomabere. “This morning we counted 18 dead, killed by knives and firearms,” he said.
Irumu chief Jonas Izorabo Lemi said he had received word of 20 fatalities. Christophe Munyanderu, coordinator of the local group Convention for the Respect of Human Rights (CRDH), also said the provisional death toll was 20.
The ADF was founded in Uganda in 1995 before moving to the eastern DRC. The group carries out frequent attacks and killed more than 1,300 people between January 2021 and January 2022, according to a United Nations report.
Uganda has sent at least 1,700 troops to its neighbour the DRC to help fight the ADF, and last week the two countries extended their joint operation launched late last year.