Rebels have killed six members of the same family in eastern DR Congo, local officials said yesterday, more than two weeks after the Congolese army announced an offensive to root out insurgents.
Officials said a man and his five children had been killed and three other people injured in the assault late Thursday in the Beni region, an area plagued by armed groups.
Local administrator Donat Kibwana blamed the attack on an Islamist-inspired rebel group, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) -- a militia of Ugandan origin that has long operated in the border region in North Kivu province.
The shadowy group -- a legacy of the Congo Wars of the 1990s and 2000s -- has been accused of killing hundreds of civilians over the past five years.
“The situation is currently tense. We are calming the population down,” Kibwana said, adding that the attack had taken place in Oicha, around 80 kilometres (50 miles) from the Ugandan border.
Local army spokesman Major Mak Hazukay confirmed that six members of the same family had been killed in the attack, adding that soldiers had “clashed with the enemy”.
The army said on October 30 it had launched “large-scale operations”, including shelling and troop deployments, aimed at ridding the area of armed groups.
But since the announcement roughly 25 civilians have been killed in attacks attributed to the ADF alone, and residents have accused the army of focusing their efforts on the wrong areas.
The Islamic State group has claimed some of the ADF’s recent attacks but there is no clear evidence of any affiliation between them.