At least 27 civilians were killed by members of a notorious rebel group in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday, the army and Red Cross said.
The Kivu Security Tracker (KST), which monitors violence in the region via a team of experts on the ground, posted on Twitter to say that at least 27 civilians had been killed in the attack.
“We heard bullets at dawn in the village of Beu Manyama,” army spokesman Anthony Mualushayi told AFP earlier Saturday.
“When we arrived, it was already too late because the enemy ADF had already killed more than a dozen of our fellow citizens with machetes.”
Described by the so-called Islamic State as its local affiliate, the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have been accused of killing thousands of civilians in DRC’s troubled east.
After the attack early Saturday, in the Beni region in North Kivu province, soldiers pursued the attackers and “neutralised seven ADF” and captured another, Mualushayi said.
Earlier Saturday, local Red Cross head Philippe Bonane had put the civilian death toll at 24 and was supervising the transfer of bodies to the morgue.
The massacre comes after almost a month of relative calm in Beni, where the Congolese and Ugandan armies have been conducting joint military operations against the ADF since late November.
On Friday another Red Cross representative said that soldiers in the neighbouring Ituri province had found 17 decapitated bodies, also believed to be victims of the ADF.
More than 120 armed groups roam eastern DRC and civilian massacres are common.
Both Ituri and North Kivu have been under an official “state of siege” since May last year, and the army and police have replaced senior administrators in a bid to stem attacks by armed groups.
Despite this, authorities have been unable to stop the massacres which are regularly carried out against civilians.