At least 25 civilians have been killed in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in an attack by the ADF militia, local authorities said on Friday.
The Congolese army was pursuing ADF fighters on Thursday when they found bodies of 25 civilians killed in their fields on New Year’s Eve, a government official in the Beni territory told reporters.
The ADF has been active in the region since the 1990s as a Ugandan rebel group, and has plagued the eastern provinces of the vast country until a year ago when the Congolese army launched a large-scale campaign against them.
In response, the group abandoned its bases, split into smaller, more mobile groups and retaliated against civilians.
Eastern DRC has long been afflicted by violence, with several armed groups operating across a region that has historically been neglected by the central government in the capital, Kinshasa.
The ADF has never claimed responsibility for attacks. But since April 2019, several of its assaults have been claimed by the so-called Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP), without providing proof.
The group makes money notably through wood trafficking and DR Congo officials suspect some military personnel are complicit in its violent raids.
More than 1,000 civilians have been killed by the ADF in 2019-2020, according to UN figures.