Suspected Ugandan rebels killed 13 civilians in an overnight raid on a village in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the army said Monday.
"We\’ve just discovered a total of 13 bodies, cut to death, including four women," said Lieutenant Mak Hazukay, army spokesman in the region of Beni, in the north of the North Kivu province.
The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) "carried out their dirty work in three small isolated villages," he told AFP, reached by phone from Goma, the capital of the troubled province.
Earlier the spokesman had said "terrorists" killed six people with machetes and three others were missing, while a local official had spoken of two people decapitated in the village of Ntombi, where the local health centre "was completely looted."
Ntombi lies about 40 kilometres (25 miles) northeast of Beni in a part of North Kivu where the rebels from neighbouring Uganda are blamed for attacks and sometimes massacres.
The ADF launched a rebellion against Uganda\’s President Yoweri Museveni more than 20 years ago, but were forced to pull back into the DRC.
Active in the east since 1995, the movement is accused of serious and repeated human rights violations while financing its activities by trafficking in tropical timber.
The United Nations, which maintains a peacekeeping mission of almost 20,000 troops and police in the vast central African country, accuses the ADF of killing more than 500 civilians in massacres and attacks in Beni territory and the Ituri region since October 2014.
Since last September, ADF forces have been blamed for a series of attacks with automatic weapons on National Highway 4, between Beni and the frontier with Ituri province to the north.
The rebels have targeted civilian vehicles and passersby as well as army outposts.
Like the rest of eastern DRC, the Beni region has been torn by conflict for more than 20 years.
The fighting is fuelled by ethnic differences and claims to land, along with bids for control over valuable natural resources and rivalry between regional powers.