An attack by Ugandan rebels has left at least 12 civilians killed in a village in the restive east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, officials say.
According to a top official, the incident occurred early Monday in Ntombi village, located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) northeast of the Beni territory in the troubled North Kivu Province.
“The village of Ntombi in the Beni territory was the scene of an attack by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). Two bodies have just been found, decapitated by machetes,” territorial administrator Amisi Kalonda said, adding that the health center in the village was completely looted.
This is while the army officials gave a higher toll for the attack, with military spokesman Lieutenant Mak Hazukay, saying “a total of 13 bodies, cut to death, including four women” were found.
The Study Center for the Promotion of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights (CEPADHO), a local organization that documents violence in the region, confirmed the killings in a statement, saying 12 were killed.
The Allied Democratic Forces-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF-NALU) rebel group, which was founded in Uganda in 1995 and later moved to Congo, is believed to have roughly 400 members and has been accused of committing serious human rights violations, including recruiting child soldiers and rape.
ADF-NALU and dozens of other armed groups have been active in eastern Congo since the 1996-2003 Congo wars.
The Congolese army, joined by UN troops, is on the offensive against the rebel group which is blamed for more than two decades of violence that has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes.
More than 300 people were killed by ADF-NALU militants last year in and around Beni.