BENI, DR CONGO - The DR Congo town of Oicha on Friday buried 27 victims of the latest massacre in the sprawling country's volatile east, with hundreds paying homage to the dead.
Mourners gathered in silence around the morgue of Oicha, located near the Ugandan border and east of the DRC town of Beni, the scene of repeated deadly attacks, an AFP correspondent said.
Workers wore face masks as they wrapped the corpses in shrouds. Wooden crosses marked the graves and many wept as the bodies were lowered.
During the mass funerals, gunfire broke out from the nearby bush but it was unclear who was firing.
The victims were hacked to death with machetes on Wednesday, taking to 107 the number of people killed in and around Beni since November 5.
The vast majority of the killings have been carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a militia that has plagued the Democratic Republic of Congo's east since the 1990s.
The massacres have sparked protests against the local United Nations peacekeeping mission, known by its French acronym MONUSCO.
A general shutdown was meanwhile observed in Goma, the main city in DRC's east, in solidarity with the beleaguered residents of Beni and Oicha.
The UN refugee agency meanwhile said there was an exodus of locals from Oicha to Beni, about 30 km (20 miles) away.
"Alarming reports from the region suggest people being trapped and under threat from the armed groups, with daily reports of loss of life," the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said on Friday.
"Abductions and attacks on schools, health centers and indigenous communities are also on the rise," it said.
"Information is difficult to verify, as the movement of humanitarian workers is restricted due to insecurity around the city and in the territory of Beni, as a result of violence."