KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — More than 40 people have been killed this week in attacks by rebels in Congo’s eastern Ituri province, local officials said Thursday.
The civil society president in Irumu territory, Gili Gotabo, blamed the Allied Democratic Forces for the attacks since Tuesday that also led to women and children being kidnapped in the Banyali-Tchabi chiefdom in the Ituri province.
Initially, he said, only three bodies were found Wednesday morning, but as a search continued in the forests where the victims were chased, they found dozens dead. Many had been shot, others were killed by machete.
The killings took place in an area where there is no security presence, including U.N. peacekeepers, he said.
The ADF is just one of many armed groups fighting for control of parts of the mineral-rich eastern Congo, which frequently engage in civilian massacres to consolidate their grip.
This week’s was the latest in a string of attacks by ADF members in the past two months in the area. The ADF originated in neighboring Uganda and has long been a threat in eastern Congo, killing hundreds since last year.
More recently, the Islamic State group has claimed attacks carried out by ADF rebels though the exact relationship between the two is not entirely clear.
A military campaign was launched against the armed group last year and ADF fighters have since dispersed into smaller groups fleeing into various regions including the Irumu territory in Ituri province. They have responded with increased attacks.