Two people have been killed in an attack by the militant Allied Democratic Forces group in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a local official said, on the eve of a peace march against the violence.
The killings happened on the Mbau-Kamango road, north of Beni city, said area administrator Donat Kibwana on Monday, November 27.
“Both bodies are at Oicha’s morgue,” he added, blaming the attack on the ADF, a militia created by Muslim rebels to oppose Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni but has also operated in eastern DRC since 1995.
A military spokesperson said the Congolese army was fighting against the ADF in the Ebola-plagued region of Beni where the disease has left more than 200 dead.
“The ADF has attempted to raid the outskirts of Oicha [north of Beni]. We are pushing them back,” said Captain Mak Hazukay.
The government has often blamed the group for killings, robberies and kidnappings, but sometimes it is unclear who the true assailants are.
Often described as Islamist, analysts say the ADF’s motivations for attacks can vary in a region where poverty and instability are endemic.
The group is accused by the U.N. and Congolese authorities of committing a series of civilian massacres since 2014. They are thought to have killed at least 700 civilians and more than 20 U.N. peacekeepers.
However, a 2017 report by the Congo Research Group at New York University concluded that Congolese Army commanders were responsible for orchestrating massacres in Beni from 2014 to 2016.
The ADF has been blamed for a recent string of attacks in the region, including two raids on November 4 that killed at least seven people in the North Kivu region. Fifteen people, including children, were kidnapped in those attacks.
On November 15, eight U.N. peacekeepers and 12 DRC troops died in a clash with ADF militants near Kididiwe after they launched a joint operation against the rebels.
Civil society organizations in Beni plan to hold a demonstration on Tuesday against the violence plaguing the region.
The protest comes as DR Congo prepares to elect a new president on December 23 as the country aims to turn the page on Joseph Kabila’s nearly 18 years in power.
With reporting from AFP