(Reuters) – At least 14 men and seven women were killed overnight in the town of Mayangose in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo by machete-wielding attackers who, unusually, spared their children, a civil society leader said on Wednesday.
Ugandan militants from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF)group that operates along the Congo border attacked between 9 p.m. (1900 GMT) and 1 a.m., Omar Kavota, a spokesman for the Civil Society of North Kivu said from the nearby city of Beni.
“They surprised the villagers who were sleeping in their houses,” Kavota said. “They killed 14 men and seven women, but this time they spared the young children.”
Local government officials were not available for comment.
Martin Kobler, head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission to Congo (MONUSCO) said in a statement that tens of people had been killed in the attack.
More than a decade after the end of the 1998-2003 war, dozens of armed groups still operate in the country’s east, a region with vast reserves of gold, tin and tantalum. The ADF has not made its motivation or goals known.
The attack comes days after a shooting in the town of Aru, some 450 km (280 miles) north of Beni, in which 15 people were killed. Between October and December, close to 300 people were killed, most with machetes and hatchets, in overnight attacks in the Beni area that the government and MONUSCO blamed on the ADF.
A U.N. panel of experts said it believed other armed groups were also involved in the attacks in which a large number of children were killed. The Congolese army and MONUSCO forces have conducted joint operations targeting the ADF in recent months and say they have been reduced to a few hundred men.