Suspected ADF militia fighters have killed 25 people in a new massacre in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a senior local official said Wednesday.
Fighters attacked Beu Manyama-Moliso village in the restive Beni region late on Tuesday night, North Kivu provincial governor Carly Nzanzu Kasivita said.
The army intervened, killing two assailants, he said.
"We are in mourning, the ADF carried out a raid and killed more than 20 people," said Noella Katongerwaki Muliwavyo, president of an association of grassroots groups in Beni.
Beu Manyama-Moliso is a small village located in remote forests in the Beni region, close to the boundary with Ituri province.
"When I heard cries and tears, I fled into the bush, I continued the path at night to Mamove", a neighbouring village, local farmer January Maneno, told AFP. "All the other farmers who stayed there are dead," he said by telephone.
A historically Ugandan Islamist group, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) is the bloodiest of scores of armed militias that roam eastern DRC, many of them a legacy of two regional wars in the 1990s.
The ADF is linked to the so-called Islamic State (IS) group, the United States said earlier this month.
According to the Kivu Security Tracker, an NGO that monitors violence in the DRC’s troubled east, the group has killed more than 1,200 civilians in the Beni area alone since 2017.
On March 19, the UN said a surge of ADF attacks since the start of the year had claimed nearly 200 lives and forced 40,000 people to flee their homes.
At least 17 were killed in separate attacks on March 23.
Regional military outreach
Separately, the DR Congo’s army said it had reached out to the militaries of neighbouring countries to help "neutralise" armed groups in the troubled east.
The armed forces "have undertaken contacts with all the armies in neighbouring countries for drawing up appropriate strategies for permanently resolving the thorny question of insecurity" in the Great Lakes region, it said on Tuesday.
Its statement, signed by army spokesman General Leon-Richard Kasonga, said the DRC was in favour of "strengthening military cooperation, regular consultation between armies in the region… (and) pooling efforts and intelligence."
According to the Congo Research Group, a monitoring project with New York University, a Rwandan military delegation led by armed forces chief of staff Jean-Bosco Kazura discreetly flew to Kinshasa on March 15 for talks on military cooperation.
Relations between the DRC and its neighbours, especially Rwanda, have been stormy.
The DRC has accused Rwanda of seeking to destabilise it, while Rwanda has charged the DRC with being a rear base for armed opposition groups, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
Past cooperative missions to wipe out armed groups have failed and run into hostility among the DRC’s public.
An estimated 122 armed groups operate in eastern DRC, according to the KST.