File Photo: CODECO commanders walk through the village of Linga, in Ituri province, northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo. AFP
The CODECO insurgents killed at least 17 people captured in the Djugu territory, around 45 kilometres (30 miles) north of Bunia in Ituri province, local community leader Banguneni Gbalande told AFP.
Gbalande said he had been alerted by the families of some of those killed.
The "hostages are dead, they have been executed by the CODECO militia", another local traditional leader, Toko Kagbanese, told AFP.
CODECO, the Cooperative for the Development of the Congo, is one of myriad armed groups operating in the restive, mineral-rich region.
The people were taken hostage after three CODECO members were killed in a clash with a rival militia, said one local resident in Bambu, one of the two villages attacked Saturday. Among those taken hostage was a pregnant woman, said the source, who did not want to be identified for security reasons.
Since the end of 2022, dozens of people have been killed in gold-rich Ituri province every week.
In recent days, CODECO fighters have been blamed for a series of massacres, claiming the lives of 30 people, including women and children.
The CODECO is a militia that claims to protect the Lendu community from another ethnic group, the Hema, and the army.
Eastern Congo is plagued by dozens of armed groups, many of which are a legacy of regional wars that flared in the 1990s and 2000s.
Ituri province is one of the violence hotspots, where attacks claiming dozens of lives are routine.