At least 18 people killed by suspected ADF militia in eastern DR Congo

A Congolese policeman stands watch outside a Mavivi neighborhood polling station in Beni on March 31, 2019 during partial parliamentary elections held today in parts of the country that were unable to participate in December's vote due to security issues and an ongoing Ebola epidemic. (Photo by Luke DENNISON / AFP) (Photo credit should read LUKE DENNISON/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: A Congolese policeman stands watch in a neighborhood in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo. (Photo credit LUKE DENNISON/AFP/Getty Images)

At least 18 people were killed by suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militants in the eastern province of North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a local civil rights group.

“We have a provisional death toll of 18 people killed in an atrocious way,” Kinos Katuho, who heads the group, said.

The attack happened overnight on the village of Baeti, located about 20 km west of the city of Oicha. A church was also burnt during the raid.

The army confirmed the attack but did not give an official death toll.

Masisa Mushogoro, the head of a development committee in Baeti, said there was tension in the area as the residents did not know if the militia would return.

“It really creates pain in our hearts, a total panic in the village,” Mushogoro said.

The ADF, originally from Uganda and created in 1986, pledged its allegiance to Islamic State and the group has endorsed some attacks by the ADF; however, researchers say there is no evidence of close collaboration.

In late 2019, the Congolese army launched a crackdown on militias in the east, resulting in reprisal attacks in which armed groups killed hundreds of people.

A report by the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) in July said the attacks committed by the ADF may constitute war crimes.

The UNJHRO estimated that at least 1,066 civilians have been killed and 176 others wounded while 717 others have been kidnapped by ADF combatants in North-Kivu and Ituri provinces since the start of last year up to the end of June.