Islamist rebels kill at least nine in eastern Congo attacks - army

By Yassin Kombi

BENI, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) - Islamist rebels killed at least nine civilians in a string of attacks on Thursday and Friday in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the army and local authorities said.

The attackers used machetes and guns to kill the victims who were working in fields in a rural area straddling the border of conflict-torn Ituri and North Kivu provinces, local traditional chief Fataki Sabuni said.

Two women were among the dead, he added.

The army blamed the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a group originally from Uganda, now based in eastern Congo, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State militant group and mounts frequent attacks.

"Today, I myself saw and transported nine bodies to the morgue," the military administrator of North Kivu's Beni territory, Colonel Charles Ehuta Omeanga, told Reuters by phone.

"The assailants are roaming the area and killing anyone they meet along the way, but our soldiers are in pursuit," he said.

Decades of conflict between the army and myriad rebel groups has destabilised eastern Congo and fuelled a long-running humanitarian crisis.

Attacks intensified last year and the number of people displaced stood at nearly 5.7 million as of end-2023, according to the U.N. humanitarian agency OCHA.

(Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Andrew Heavens)