About 20 people in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo were killed in a fresh attack by the suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group, monitors said Monday.
"At least 20 civilians were killed in #Kikura village (#Beni territory, North #Kivu) on Sunday night. The #ADF are suspected," the U.S.-based Kivu Security Tracker (KST) said on Twitter.
Ricardo Rupande, head of a local association of grassroots groups, gave the same toll and urged the armed forces to take action against the rebels.
David Moaze, a lawyer and coordinator for a DRC rights group called ADDHO, said two women and a girl around age 9 were among the dead.
The ADF — which Islamic State describes as its local affiliate — has been blamed for thousands of deaths in eastern DRC, as well as a spate of recent bomb attacks in the Ugandan capital, Kampala.
Last May, the DRC government imposed a "state of siege" in North Kivu and neighboring Ituri in a bid to crush armed groups that plague the two provinces.
Under it, senior civilian positions in the provinces have been taken over by army or police officers.
Despite the crackdown, and cross-border support from Ugandan forces that began in late November, the ADF's attacks have continued.
Kikura, where the latest bloodshed took place, lies around 15 kilometers from a Ugandan army base in eastern DRC at Mukakati.
The DRC army and U.N. peacekeeping mission MONUSCO, in the DRC, are also present in the area.
Rupande said the armed forces "have given the enemy time to organize."
The ADF was historically a Ugandan rebel coalition whose biggest group comprised of Muslims opposed to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
But it established itself in eastern DRC in 1995, becoming the deadliest of scores of outlawed forces in the troubled region.
Islamic State presents the ADF as its regional branch — the Islamic State Central Africa Province, or ISCAP.
In March 2020, the United States placed the ADF on its list of "terrorist groups" affiliated with IS jihadists.