Soldiers patrolling eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have discovered 17 decomposing bodies by a riverside, some of which were decapitated, local sources said on Friday.
The troops came across the corpses on Thursday by the Ituri river, in the Irumu territory of Ituri province, according to local Red Cross representative David Beiza.
Beiza added that some of the bodies had been decapitated, with some heads placed in boxes.
He underlined that the Red Cross had not yet verified the information, however. AFP was also unable to independently verify the information.
Dieudonne Malangay, a resident of the area where soldiers discovered the bodies, said there were 17 headless corpses.
“It is difficult to identify the victims because the bodies are decomposing,” he said, adding that they had likely been civilian victims of a notorious armed group called the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
The ADF, described by the so-called Islamic State as its local affiliate, has been accused of killing thousands of civilians in DRC’s troubled east.
Experts suggested the militia was responsible for a May 11 attack in Irumu territory that killed at least 20 civilians.
Over 120 armed groups roam eastern DRC, where civilian massacres are common.
Congolese security forces have governed Ituri province and neighboring North Kivu since May last year, in a bid to crush the deadly militias. But civilian massacres have continued despite the crackdown.
Two local officials told AFP that fighters from the CODECO — another feared militia — killed nine civilians on Thursday further north in Ituri.