INSHASA: At least 40 civilians have been killed in an attack on a village in the restive east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a non-governmental organisation said on Thursday.
"Up to this morning we have found more than 40 bodies, all of them civilians, in the latrines," Teddy Kataliko, the head of civil society in the Beni region where the attack took place on Wednesday, told AFP.
"Teams from the Red Cross and the police are searching to see if they find other victims."
Kataliko said "dozens" of people were left seriously wounded by the attack, which has been blamed on Ugandan rebels.
The attack took place in the town of Kamango before dawn, with the civil society blaming it on the Islamist Ugandan rebel group ADF-Nalu, one of the oldest but least-known armed groups operating in the mineral-rich DR Congo.
The UN's special force in DR Congo used helicopters on Wednesday to fire on the rebels and help government troops retake Kamango after the attack.
ADF-Nalu stands for Allied Democratic Forces-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda and is considered the only Islamist organisation in the region.
In July the Congolese army battled the ADF-Nalu rebels to take control of the Kamango region, but the fighting had sent tens of thousands of people fleeing for safety in neighbouring Uganda.
MONUSCO, the United Nations' thousands-strong force in DR Congo, "strongly" condemned the attacks and said that "it will be using all its aerial and ground assets available to protect the civilians".
It would also "reinforce its presence in the area" in order to prevent ADF-Nalu fighters from reaching other towns.
"The mission is determined to fulfill its mandate of tracking down and neutralising all armed groups elements that spread fear and desolation among innocent civilians," it said in a statement published Thursday.
MONUSCO includes a 3,000-strong intervention brigade specially authorised to go after armed groups ravaging the country. There are another 17,000 peacekeepers mobilised in the overall mission.
The mission helped bring down the M23 rebel movement last month, which was suspected of receiving support from Rwanda and Uganda, something both countries deny.