Armed attackers killed 10 people and kidnapped two during a raid on a village in eastern Congo, a local official said, accusing them of belonging to an Islamist rebel militia.
The attack comes five days after the Democratic Republic of Congo’s army launched a large scale operation against insurgent group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in an area fighting to contain the second-worst Ebola epidemic on record.
The ADF, originally a Ugandan Islamist-inspired rebel group, has been operating along the Congo/Uganda border for more than two decades, one of a number of armed factions active in east Congo long after the official end of a 1998-2003 war.
Fighters stormed Kokola village in Beni territory on Monday, said Donat Kibwana, a local administrator.
“The mode of attack was the same as that of the ADF,” he told Reuters. “While the army launched large-scale operations deep in the forest, rebels attacked towns and civilians.”
Several previous ADF attacks were claimed by Islamic State, but the extent of their relationship remains unclear. The ADF is not known to have pledged public loyalty to Islamic State.
Six Congolese soldiers were killed in clashes around Kokola on Monday, according to sources cited by the Kivu Security Tracker (KST), a website monitoring violence in the region.
KST, a collaboration between New York University’s Congo Research Group and New York-based Human Rights Watch, said at least eight villagers were killed. The information could not be independently verified.
The presence of the Islamist militant group, along with other violent militias and armed criminal bands, severely hampered efforts to contain the Ebola epidemic, which infected more than 3 000 people and killed more than 2 000 since August last year.