Local officials and activists are reporting that there has been a massacre of Hutu civilians in the village of Kyaghala in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The civilians were attacked, and many beheaded, by militiamen from the Nande ethnic group.
"In total 25 people were killed, decapitated by machete by the Mai-Mai Mazembe in and around the village of Kyaghala," Francis Bakundakabo, the local representative of the governor of North Kivu province, told AFP.
The Mai-Mai are a so-called "self-defense" militia composed of members of DRC's Nande, Hunde and Kobo communities. They stand in opposition to rivals from the Nyaturu group, which also represents ethnic Hutus.
"All of these people were Hutu civilians," said Bakundakabo, adding that the killings took place between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. on Saturday.
Hope Kubuya, a local activist who verified the attack, said 24 of the victims had been killed with machetes and one woman was shot dead.
"This raid by the Mai-Mai Mazembe in the Hutu village will enflame the interethnic conflict in the region," he added.
The area around Kyaghala is majority Hutu. The last major attack occurred in December, when 35 civilians were killed in clashes between the two groups.
Tension between the Nande and Hutu communities has escalated over the past year, with militia groups attacking villages on both sides. The province of North Kivu, like much of eastern DRC, has been riven by conflict for more than two decades.