Clashes have erupted between the Congolese army and suspected Ugandan rebels in the restive eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, leaving at least 10 people dead.
“Suspected ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) attacked Beni from the north overnight... Eight civilians were shot dead, a soldier was killed and a suspected ADF militant was also killed,” Gilbert Kambale, a local civil society leader, said Monday.
Beni, where fears of gun violence run deep, lies in a conflict-ridden and unstable region of the DR Congo, with more than 700 fatalities since October 2014 in massacres blamed on militants from the ADF.
The ADF was founded in Uganda in 1995 and later moved to the impoverished DR Congo, spreading its reign of violence, particularly in the North Kivu Province.
In its almost two decades of presence there, the rebel group has been accused of committing serious human rights violations, including recruiting child soldiers and rape, against the local population.
The Congolese army, joined by UN troops, is on the offensive against the ADF and other rebel groups.
The development comes as the country is reeling from violence during protests against President Joseph Kabila.
Violent demonstrations have recently been held in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, and other places, with the protesters demanding the resignation of President Joseph Kabila.
Official reports said over 30 people were killed but the opposition put the toll at much higher.