Rebels killed at least 36 people in an overnight attack on a village in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, officials said on Thursday.
The attack took place in the village of Mukondi, which is around 19 miles (30 kilometers) south of the city of Beni in the restive North Kivu province.
Provincial Governor Carly Nzanzu Kasivita put the death toll at 36, while the head of a civil society group said more than 40 people had been killed.
Mumbere Limbadu Arsene, the head of the civil society group, said villagers were still missing, adding that the modus operandi suggested that the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) was behind the attack since no bullets were fired.
ADF is a long-standing insurgent group with Ugandan roots operating in eastern Congo and often uses hatchets and machetes. The group established ties with the so-called "Islamic State" in late 2018 and wages frequently deadly raids on villages.
The situation in North Kivu province has continued to deteriorate since the M23 rebel group, which was largely dormant after laying down weapons in 2013, resurfaced and started capturing territory in late 2021.
The re-emergence of the feared rebel group, which derives its name from a peace deal signed on March 23, 2009, which called for rebels to be integrated into the Congo army, has displaced some 450,000 people in North Kivu province alone since fighting intensified last year.
Another 6 million have been displaced in the country. Fighting in eastern Congo has been simmering for decades as more than 120 groups fight for power, land and valuable mineral resources — while others try to defend their communities.
UN Security Council delegation to visit eastern Congo
A United Nations Security Council delegation was to arrive on Thursday for a three-day visit to Congo, the AFP news agency reported.
The visit comes as M23 fighters advance in recent days, threatening to cut off all road links to Goma, which is the largest city in Congo's mineral-rich east.
It also comes as Congo steps up pressure on the international community to pursue international sanctions against Rwanda for its alleged military support to the M23 rebellion.
rm/sms (Reuters, AFP, AP)