Nineteen civilians in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo have been burned and hacked to death by Ugandan rebels, a local official said.
Fourteen bodies were found on Saturday, a day after the incident, Kakule Kalunga told the AFP news agency.
A local chief said the bodies were discovered by Red Cross workers who went into the nearby forest to look for those missing after the attack on Kasanzi village in the Beni territory of North Kivu.
Beni lies at the heart of an area where the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) – affiliated to ISIL (ISIS) – have mounted deadly attacks in spite of emergency security measures by President Felix Tshisekedi.
“[The] 19 people were killed by the rebels who plague the territory of Beni, the ADF,” Kalunga said, adding that the victims were killed by “bladed weapons and fire”, and that houses were also set ablaze.
In a statement on Friday, Meleki Mulala, a spokesman for the New Civil Society organisation in Rwenzori, deplored the absence of military personnel around Beni.
Regional military sources contacted by AFP did not immediately comment.
Since May, the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri have been under a state of siege, replacing civilian authorities with army and police officers to fight armed groups.
Earlier this month, a contingent of US special operations forces arrived in the area to help the Congolese army in their fight against the ADF, US and Congolese sources said at the time.
The size of the contingent was unknown but about a dozen soldiers could be seen in official photos of a meeting between Tshisekedi and a delegation led by the US ambassador to the DRC, Mike Hammer.