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Gunmen kill dozens in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — The government said on Saturday suspected Islamist militants had killed at least 62 civilians in a series of attacks last week in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as the army launched a crackdown on rebels.

The escalation of violence follows a period of relative calm in early January, undermining government allegations of security progress against the Ugandan militant group, the Ugandan Democratic Forces, operating in the Beni region.

The human rights organization Sipadho said that ADF killed at least 74 civilians, including many women and children, with white weapons and rifles in attacks that spread to about a dozen villages in less than 48 hours.

The army has repeatedly said it has made sweeping progress on the group, killing many of its top commanders, and taking control of many of its camps in a dense forest area near the Ugandan border.

However, the Allied Democratic Forces, which arrived in the Congo from Uganda in the 1990s, managed to escape repeated campaigns by Congolese and United Nations peacekeepers and then retaliated against civilians.

On Wednesday, officials said at least 30 people were killed overnight near the city of Oicha. Civil society activists reported that dozens of other civilians were killed in attacks on nearby villages on Thursday.

The government announced in a statement after a cabinet meeting that the death toll was 62, without providing further details. She added that the army “dismantles the networks of accomplices and other agents thanks to the information provided by the detainees from the Allied Democratic Forces”.

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