At least 25 civilians have been killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s troubled east, local officials said Friday, blaming the attack on the notorious ADF militia.
The army was chasing ADF fighters on Thursday when they found the bodies of 25 civilians, who had been “taken by surprise in their fields on New Year’s Eve,” Donat Kibuana, the administrator of Beni territory in North Kivu province, told AFP.
The massacre took place in the village of Tingwe, about eight kilometres (five miles) from the town of Eringeti.
The head of the civil society organisation in Tingwe, Bravo Mohindo Vukulu, said at least 30 had died.
“People had gone to their fields to prepare for New Year’s Eve, the ADF picked them up one by one,” he said.
“We had alerted our forces that the ADF had passed through from the east to the northeast of Eringeti. They did not react quickly,” he added.
The ADF, which originated in the 1990s as a Ugandan Muslim rebel group, is one of dozens of militias that plague the eastern provinces of the vast country.
It is blamed for the deaths of around 800 civilians over the past year in North Kivu province, which borders Uganda.
The group makes money notably through wood trafficking and DR Congo officials suspect some military are complicit in the violent raids.
The ADF has never claimed responsibility for attacks. But since April 2019, several of its assaults have been claimed by the so-called Islamic State’s Central Africa Province, without providing proof.
The United Nations said in July the group’s attacks could constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes.