KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo

At least 46 people were killed on Thursday in a bloody attack by a rebel group in the northeastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a local official told Anadolu Agency.

The attack, perpetrated by elements of the Uganda rebel group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) targeted the chiefdom of Walese Vonkutu, a locality near the North Kivu province where the Congolese armed forces have been fighting the ADF rebellion for more than six years.

“We have been alerted of an ADF attack. They killed several pygmies. The latest information shows 46 dead,” Adio Gidi, the provincial interior minister in the gold-rich Ituri province, told Anadolu Agency.

A mission will be dispatched to the area on Friday to “determine the final toll,” he said, without giving further details.

Localities around Beni, Irumu, and Mambasa territory have become an ADF center of attacks for over a year.

The ADF rebels — originating in Uganda’s northeast in the 1990s — have been attacking and killing civilians, as well as UN personnel in eastern DRC for the past years.

At least 22 civilians were killed after rebels attacked a village in Beni territory earlier this month.

The modus operandi of these rebels is atypical: peasants are killed with knives, generally in the evening in the bush, returning from the fields or in the village at nightfall.

The illicit exploitation of natural resources continues to be a root cause and driver of conflict in the east of the country, according to the UN.

Most of the militia groups have set aside their political demands and are involved in mineral trafficking.

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