KINSHASA – Militants armed with machetes, sticks and clubs killed at least 30 villagers in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, officials and a witness said.
The fighters – suspected members of the Islamist-inspired Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) – raided Makutano, north of the city of Oicha in North Kivu province, early on Saturday, the officials told Reuters.
Villager Malielo Omeonga said his son woke him when the militants struck.
“I took some time to leave my bed, and in his haste my son ran and fell into the ambush of the ADF. So my son is dead and I am here by the grace of God,” Omeonga said by telephone.
“It’s total devastation. People are fleeing everywhere,” Christophe Munyanderu from the Congolese campaign group Convention for the Respect of Human Rights, said.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the raid. The ADF, which was formed in neighboring Uganda and says it is allied to Islamic State, seldom makes public statements.
An army spokesman said forces were clearing the area “while we wait for other measures to be taken.”
Congolese authorities and rights groups have accused the ADF of killing hundreds of civilians in apparent retaliation for army offensives against them since late 2019.
The United Nations has said the militant attacks may constitute war crimes.
In May, the government imposed martial law in two eastern provinces in an attempt to end the insecurity that has plagued the mineral-rich area since the end of the second civil war in 2003. But the bloodshed has continued.
Last month the United States sent a dozen special forces troops to the area to assess the “anti-terrorism” capabilities of the army.