Suspected Islamists kill at least 38 in attack on eastern Congo villages

By Erikas Mwisi Kambale and Yassin Kombi

BENI, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) -Suspected Islamist rebels killed at least 38 people in an overnight attack on villages in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, two district officials and a civil society leader said on Saturday.

Local civil society leader Justin Kavalami blamed members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) for the attack. The ADF, alleged to be behind another village assault that killed at least 16 people earlier this week, originates from neighbouring Uganda.

Now based in eastern Congo, it has pledged allegiance to Islamic State and mounts frequent attacks, further destabilising a region where many militant groups are active.

Armed men used guns and machetes to attack residents of villages in Beni territory, in North Kivu province, overnight on Friday, local official Fabien Kakule told Reuters.

District official Leon Kakule Siviwe said the death toll stood at 38 and said the recent surge in violence was due to the attackers taking advantage of a low security presence.

They came to “slaughter the population when there were no soldiers in place,” he told Reuters.

It was not possible to reach the ADF for comment.

(Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Helen Popper and Louise Heavens)

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