At least 39 people have been killed in two new attacks in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, monitors said Monday, as a local official blamed a notorious group linked to the Islamic State group.
"At least 20 civilians were killed overnight in the village of Boga and at least 19 in the village of Tchabi," in Irumu territory in Ituri province, the Kivu Security Tracker (KST) group said.
A local civil society leader attributed the attacks to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) -- a historically Ugandan Islamist group blamed for a string of massacres in the past 18 months.
Two local officials reached in Boga by AFP said the assailants attacked a camp for displaced people. They said 36 bodies had been found so far in Boga, a figure that had yet to be independently confirmed.
The two villages are located about 10 kilometres (six miles) apart on the border between North Kivu province and Ituri, an area that has long had a reputation for ADF attacks and ethnic friction.
The KST, a respected NGO that monitors violence in eastern DRC, said the wife of a traditional leader in Benyali-Tchabi had been killed in the attack on Tchabi.
The ADF is the deadliest of an estimated 122 armed militias that roam the mineral-rich east of the DRC, many of them a legacy of two regional wars that ran from 1996 to 2003.
As of Friday, the KST estimated that at least 1,228 civilians have been killed in Beni territory of North Kivu alone since November 2019, when DRC forces launched a crackdown, splintering the ADF into smaller groups.
The latest deaths brought the toll from ADF-suspected killings to at least 78 in six days. Three other attacks since last Tuesday have claimed 39 lives.
On March 11, the United States said the ADF was linked to the Islamic State group (IS), which is also known by the acronym ISIS. The ADF was called ISIS-DRC, or Madina at Tauheed Wau Mujahedeen.
DRC President Felix Tshisekedi on May 6 proclaimed a 30-day "state of siege" in North Kivu and Ituri in a bid to curb bloodshed by the ADF.
Under the move, military and police officers have taken over from civilian authorities.