Extremist-linked rebels have killed at least 44 villagers in separate attacks in Congo’s volatile east, local authorities and civil society leaders said Tuesday.
The Allied Democratic Forces rebels with ties to the Islamic State group attacked Kishanga village in North Kivu province on Sunday night and killed 33 people including a member of the Congolese army, said a delegate of the provincial governor, Samson Simara.
“The rebels executed them in the Virunga National Park,” Simara said.
The rebels killed 11 other villagers in the province of Ituri on Tuesday, according to Samuel Ngunjolo, a civil society leader.
“We are worried and … are asking the security services to urgently deploy security,” Ngunjolo said.
Six of the rebels were killed by the army, according to Capt. Anthony Mulushayi, spokesman for the Congolese army in North Kivu. Some hostages were freed, Mulushayi said.
Eastern Congo has been ravaged by conflict for decades as more than 120 armed groups fight for control of valuable mineral resources and some try to protect their communities. Mass killings by rebels are frequent. The violence has sent nearly seven million people fleeing their homes.
Deadly attacks have intensified in recent weeks as authorities and security forces struggle to regain control and deploy adequate personnel in communities where mostly women and children are targeted.
The Congolese government earlier this month directed the East African regional force, deployed last year to help end the fighting, to leave the country by December after saying it was unsatisfied with its work. The U.N. peacekeeping mission also has faced pressure to withdraw from Congo after more than two decades in the country.