Rebel attacks in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo this week claimed over a dozen civilian lives, local sources said on Wednesday, in the latest violence to hit the turbulent region.
Militants from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) group raided villages near the town of Biakato in Ituri province on Tuesday, residents of the area told AFP.
Kamba Tonge, the head of a youth association in Biakato, said that he and other volunteers had found the bodies of 14 civilians in two villages while conducting a search on Wednesday.
Volunteers also found the bodies of two ADF rebels who had been killed by Congolese soldiers, he added.
Gilbert Sivamwenda, a Biakato civil society leader, confirmed that the bodies of 14 civilians had been found in the wake of the attack.
AFP was unable to independently confirm the death toll.
Colonel Charles Ehuta Omeanga, the military administrator of the Beni region in neighboring North Kivu province, said the army had intervened during the ADF incursion but he did not specify how many people were killed.
The ADF – which the Islamic State group claims as its Central African offshoot – is among the most violent armed groups in troubled eastern Congo.
It has been accused of slaughtering thousands of Congolese civilians and carrying out bomb attacks in neighboring Uganda.
Last year, Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi placed members of the security forces in charge of Ituri and North Kivu provinces in a bid to quell long-running violence.
The measure has failed to stop attacks against civilians, however.