At least 19 killed in suspected Islamist attack in eastern DR Congo

Servicemen of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) stand guard as people gathered to attend the public hearing of suspected members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a partly Islamist militia of Ugandan origin blamed for the death of hundreds of civilians in eastern DRC, in Beni on August 20, 2016. Authorities slapped a dawn-to-dusk curfew on two northeast Congo towns on August 18, 2016, following deadly clashes over the government's failure to prevent repeated civilian massacres. The slaying in which victims were the latest in a string of massacres that has left more than 700 dead since 2014. / AFP / KUDRA MALIRO (Photo credit should read KUDRA MALIRO/AFP via Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: Servicemen of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) stand guard as people gathered to attend the public hearing of suspected members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a partly Islamist militia of Ugandan origin blamed for the death of hundreds of civilians in eastern DR Congo, in Beni. (Photo credit KUDRA MALIRO/AFP via Getty Images)

The United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) reported that 19 people were killed in a new attack by suspected rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) early on Wednesday morning in Maliki, North West of the village of Oicha.

A UN spokesman said that a quick reaction team had been deployed in liaison with the Congolese armed forces. The spokesman added that additional peacekeepers were deployed by the mission to Beni.

A local official of Beni region said that several family members of the victims feared returning to the village for fear of being attacked.

The ADF, a rebel group of Ugandan origin that has bedeviled the eastern part of the DR Congo since the mid-1990s, is accused of carrying out mass killings in the country.

The most recent killings have sparked off protests against the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission and Congolese authorities over their perceived failure to protect civilians.

At least seven people have died since protests began on Saturday and the UN said it is opening an investigation into allegations that its troops may have killed a protester on Tuesday.

On Monday, a group of people stormed one of the two UN camps near Beni and burnt one of its offices.

Two days later, one student was injured, and 10 other people were arrested as Congolese police dispersed a protest outside the university in Goma.

The Congo Research Group (CRG) estimates that the ADF has killed more than 1,000 civilians since October 2014.

UN figures say the ADF has killed at least 80 people in 14 attacks since the Congolese army began an operation against them in October.

ADF attacks in the past have been claimed by Islamic State though the nature of their relationship is still unclear.