ISIL-affiliated rebel fighters blamed after 38 killed in DR Congo attack

The armed men used guns and machetes to attack residents of villages in Beni territory, in North Kivu province.

A FARDC (Armed Forces of the DRC) vehicle in a military position in Mirangi, is seen close to the frontline and the town of Kibirizi, controlled by the M23 rebellion, North Kivu province, eastern DRC [Alexis Huguet/AFP]

Rebel fighters affiliated with ISIL (ISIS) have killed at least 38 people in an overnight attack on a village in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), officials and a civil society leader in the region have said.

The armed men used guns and machetes to attack residents of villages in Beni territory, in North Kivu province, overnight on Friday, local official Fabien Kakule said.

District official Leon Kakule Siviwe said that the recent surge in violence was due to the attackers taking advantage of a small security presence.

Local civil society leader Justin Kavalami blamed members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) for the attack.

The ADF, which is also accused of being behind another village assault that killed at least 16 people earlier this week, was originally based in neighbouring Uganda. After spreading to the eastern DRC, it pledged allegiance to ISIL in 2018 and has mounted frequent attacks, further destabilising a region where many armed groups are active.

The ADF has killed more than 50 people in the war-torn region of the DRC this week, local officials said.

Since the end of 2021, the Congolese and Ugandan armies have conducted joint operations against the ADF in North Kivu and neighbouring Ituri, but have so far failed to stop the deadly attacks on civilians.

The eastern DRC has been plagued by violence by armed groups for decades, with both the government and foreign actors providing belligerents with weapons. The Rwandan-backed M23 (March 23 Movement) resumed its armed campaign in the region at the end of 2021, seizing swaths of territory in North Kivu, as intensified fighting continues to displace tens of thousands of people.

About 6.9 million people across the DRC were displaced by the end of last year, mostly in the eastern provinces.

Since an escalation of hostilities in March 2022, more than 1.6 million people have been driven from their homes in North Kivu in the east of the country.

Source: News Agencies