Suspected militants killed at least 18 people in a village raid in eastern Congo as fighting resumed with the M23 rebel group in a neighbouring province.
A local chief and a local human rights group said fighters, believed to be from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), killed residents and burned down houses in the Otomabere village in Irumu territory, Ituri province on Sunday night.
Congolese army spokesman, Jules Ngongo, confirmed the ADF attack without giving a death toll and said Congolese forces were in pursuit of the assailants.
The ADF is a Ugandan militia that moved to eastern Congo in the 1990s.
The group carried out frequent attacks and killed more than 1,300 people between January 2021 and January 2022, according to a United Nations report.
“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.’’
Christophe Munyanderu, the coordinator of the local group Convention for the Respect of Human Rights (CRDH), said the provisional death toll was 20.
Uganda has sent at least 1,700 troops to neighbouring Congo to help fight the ADF and last week the two countries extended their joint operation launched late last year.
Congo government spokesman, Patrick Muyaya, said fighting resumed on Monday between the Congolese army and the M23, a rebel group claiming to represent the interests of ethnic Tutsis.