Clashes between rebels and soldiers in a town in eastern Congo killed at least 30 people, including civilians, rebels and a United Nations peacekeeper, the director of an activist group said Monday.
Rebels from the Allied Defense Forces attacked government forces on Sunday in Eringeti in North Kivu province, said Omar Kavota, the executive director of a local group that tracks these attacks. Rebels, a U.N. peacekeeper, civilians and soldiers were among the dead after 10 hours of fighting, according to the information from the Center of Study for the Promotion of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights.
At least 10 others were injured and 43 homes burned in the town, located 55 kilometers (34 miles) north of Beni. The area has been the site of repeated attacks by the rebels, who have origins in neighboring Uganda. Congo's army and U.N. peacekeepers launched an operation against the rebels in December.
Witnesses told the rights group that some of the attackers called out a jihadi slogan when attacking. Most residents fled the town and fighting eventually ceased, Kavato said in the statement.
The activist group called on the government and international community to act to be sure jihadism does not emerge in eastern Congo, which is home to myriad armed groups, many vying for control of the region's vast mineral resources.
The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo includes a force intervention brigade with a unique mandate to take offensive military action against rebel groups that have plagued the vast region since the Rwanda genocide two decades ago.