Suspected Allied Democratic Forces fighters have killed at least 23 people in eastern DR Congo, local officials said Monday, in the latest violence in the turbulent region claimed by the Islamic State group.
The attack occurred overnight on Sunday in the village of Makugwe, in the Beni area of North Kivu province, said local civil society figure Roger Wangeve, who put the death toll at 24.
“The ADF surprised 17 people in a small bar where they were drinking beer, and executed them,” he said.
A Congolese army spokesman in the region put the death toll at 24 with 10 people missing.
Wangeve added that militants also looted and torched several homes and shops in the village and carried off several villagers into the bush.
Provincial deputy Saidi Balikwisha, who was in Makugwe during the attack, said 23 were killed and three others are missing.
He urged an increased military presence in the area to better anticipate armed attacks.
IS, which has designated the ADF as its central African affiliate, claimed responsibility for the attack on Monday, saying on messaging app Telegram that its militants attacked Makugwe and burned down several houses.
AFP was unable to independently confirm the death toll from the attack.
Colonel Charles Omeonga, the Congolese military administrator of Beni territory, told AFP soldiers were “in pursuit of the enemy”, who he said were hiding among the local population.
The ADF is one of the deadliest groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a volatile region that has been plagued by militia violence for decades.
The ADF has been accused of slaughtering thousands of Congolese civilians and carrying out bomb attacks in Uganda.
In 2021, the United States officially linked the ADF to IS and added it to its list of foreign terrorist organisations.
On January 15, suspected ADF operatives detonated a bomb in a church in North Kivu, killing at least 14 people and injuring another 63.
Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi placed North Kivu and neighbouring Ituri province in a “state of siege” in 2021, replacing civilian administrators with military and police personnel in a bid to stem the violence.
The DRC and Uganda also launched a joint offensive that year to drive the ADF out of their Congolese strongholds, but the measures have so far failed to end the group’s attacks.