Twenty-six people were killed in an overnight attack on the town of Beni in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a Congolese army spokesman told the Agence France-Presse news agency on Thursday.
DRC is home to a myriad of armed groups, many vying for control of the country’s vast mineral resources. Many of the rebel groups sowing unrest originate from other countries in the region, including Burundi, Uganda and Rwanda.
Civil society groups in the Nord-Kivu region where the attack took place said it was carried out by a rebel group called Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan group targeted by the Congolese army and U.N. peacekeepers since the beginning of the year.
However, army spokesman Lt. Col. Olivier Hamuli said the perpetrators’ identities have not been confirmed.
The overnight attack comes one week after ADF killed nine people in Oicha, another town in Nord-Kivu, according to Lt. Col. Felix Prosper Basse, spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the region.
Maimai-Simba, a different group, attacked a remote village last week in eastern DRC, abducting 40 women and seven boys, Basse said.
Congolese troops and U.N. peacekeepers launched a major offensive in January against the ADF, which is accused of widespread rights abuses including murder, rape and use of child soldiers. It funds its activities by trafficking timber and gold.
While military operations have weakened the rebels, civil society groups have warned of renewed attacks by the ADF in recent days.
U.N. forces are considering a joint operation with U.S. Africa Command, Africom, to fight the rebels.