10 civilians killed in militia attack in eastern DRCongo

Beni (DR Congo) (AFP) –


Ten civilians were killed in an attack in eastern DR Congo blamed on an Islamist-rooted armed group based in Uganda, a local official said Wednesday.

Members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) crossed the border from Uganda late on Tuesday, and "killed 10 civilians, some with knives and others with firearms," in the locality of Kokola, Donat Kibwana, local administrator in the restive Beni region, told AFP.

The army announced last week that it had launched "large-scale operations" against armed militias that have been causing violence in the country's troubled east for nearly a quarter of a century.

An army spokesman in the region, Major Mak Hazukay, said the ADF "are cornered" by army fire.

"That's why they try to cause terror among the population," he told AFP.

"We are continuing our work. But we deplore what happened to our compatriots in Kokola," the spokesman said, while declining to give a casualty toll for Tuesday's attack.

The impoverished and vast central African country has been wracked by conflict near its eastern border, with many of the militias having evolved from the two Congo wars (1996-1997 and 1998-2003).

The Beni region, in the North Kivu province which borders Uganda and Rwanda, has been particularly affected by militia violence.

The Islamist-rooted ADF, which arose in western Uganda in 1995, has targeted Beni, killing hundreds of civilians over the last five years.

Five Great Lakes countries -- the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda -- decided last month to combine their military operations in the region.

The UN's peacekeeping mission in DR Congo has supported DRC troops in the region, but has ruled out backing any foreign intervention.