Extremist rebels in eastern Congo’s Ituri province killed at least 18 people in several villages, according to a human rights group.
Fighters with the Allied Democratic Forces attacked people in the Irumu territory villages of Mutuyeyi, Bekembele and Bulesi villages last weekend, Christophe Munyanderu, coordinator of the Convention for the Respect of Human Rights, reported Wednesday.
Houses were also looted, he said.
Violence has simmered for decades in eastern Congo, where some 120 armed groups fight over land, resources and power, and some to defend their communities.
Attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces, which is believed to be allied with the Islamic State group, have increased recently. In April, more than 30 people were killed in Ituri, and at least 17 people were killed in North Kivu province in May.
The group originally operated in North Kivu province but has expanded to neighboring Ituri, where more then 144,000 people were displaced between January and February, according to the United Nations. Efforts by Congo’s army and Ugandan forces to push the rebels back have yielded few results.
ADF began expanding into Ituri in 2021 by exploiting existing inter-communal tensions and filling a security vacuum left by the government when it transferred some of its forces to combat another rebel group, M23, in North Kivu, according to analysts.