At least 20 dead in new DR Congo massacre

Ituri and neighbouring North Kivu province are struggling with attacks by armed groups, many of them a legacy of wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo's east.

FILE: The attack took place overnight in the village of Bwanasura in Irumu territory, the Kivu Security Tracker (KST) said on Twitter. Picture: Supplied.

BUNIA, DR CONGO - At least 20 people have been killed in a new massacre in DR Congo's eastern province of Ituri, a respected monitor said on Monday, adding that the notorious ADF militia were suspected.

The attack took place overnight in the village of Bwanasura in Irumu territory, the Kivu Security Tracker (KST) said on Twitter.

David Beiza, head of the Red Cross in Irumu, said volunteers from his organisation "have counted 36 bodies" at the site of the massacre.

Ituri and neighbouring North Kivu province are struggling with attacks by armed groups, many of them a legacy of wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo's east.

KST said the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) -- a group that the so-called Islamic State describes as its affiliate -- was suspected to have been behind the killing.

Beiza said, "ADF rebels arrived around eight pm. They moved calmly. Fortunately, many residents were able to flee."

Ituri and North Kivu have been under a "state of siege" since May last year -- a measure placing army chiefs in positions of authority to speed up efforts against armed groups.

The ADF was also targeted in a joint operation launched last November by government and Ugandan forces following bomb attacks in the Ugandan capital Kampala.

Despite the crackdown, the ADF's attacks have continued.

On Saturday, at least 27 people were killed in Beu-Manyama, a village in the Beni area of North Kivu in an attack blamed on the group.

In March, at least 30 people were killed by suspected rebels in North Kivu and more than 50 people died in a two-day assault on villages in Irumu.

The ADF is historically a Ugandan rebel coalition whose biggest group comprised Muslims opposed to President Yoweri Museveni.

Established in eastern DRC in 1995, the group became the deadliest of scores of outlawed forces in the deeply troubled region.

The ADF has been blamed for massacres, kidnappings and looting, with a toll in lives estimated in the thousands.

Since April 2019, some ADF attacks in eastern DRC have been claimed by the Islamic State, which describes the group as its local offshoot, the Islamic State Central Africa Province.

The United States last year placed the ADF on its list of "terrorist" organisations linked to IS.