Islamist militants killed 18 people in an attack on a village in eastern Congo, a regional official and a local human rights group said the latest in a 60-day counter-offensive that killed 200 civilians.
The attack occurred in Apetina, in a remote forested area a few miles from the Ugandan border where attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan Islamist group, increased since October, when the army launched a campaign to root them out.
Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi said the campaign dismantled nearly all ADG sanctuaries. Earlier 22 were killed in ambushes on two villages in the same region.
“There was a raid by ADF rebels in Apetina on Sunday night. The rebels killed 18 people and burned down eight houses,” said Donat Kibwana, administrator of Beni territory.
He said the army was alerted to the attack but arrived after the killings. CEPADHO, a human rights group, confirmed 18 were killed.
The Congolese government blames the ADF for attacks going back years, including night-time massacres since 2014 that killed hundreds of civilians. Repeated military operations failed to eradicate the group.
The surge in violence complicated efforts to stamp out an Ebola outbreak in the area. Infections started to rise in areas health workers have been unable to access because of insecurity.
The US Treasury imposed sanctions on six members of the ADF, including leader Musa Baluku.