Suspected rebels hack nine people to death in northeast Congo: army

Suspected rebels hacked to death at least nine people in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday, the army said, the latest in a string of massacres that have killed more than 500 civilians since October 2014.

Poor intelligence and insufficient resources have hampered efforts by Congolese and UN peacekeeping forces to stamp out repeated killings, most carried out at night with machetes and hatchets, near the town of Beni.

Rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan Islamist group, snuck into a village near Oicha, 30 km north of Beni, under cover of a heavy morning rainfall to attack civilians in their homes, said Mak Hazukay, a local army spokesman. The victims included five women, Hazukay said.

Lawless eastern Congo is plagued by dozens of armed groups that prey on the local population and exploit mineral reserves. Millions died there between 1996 and 2003 as regional conflict caused hunger and disease.

The Kinshasa government has blamed the ADF for nearly all of the attacks near Beni since 2014. The group has operated near the Ugandan border since the 1990s and funds itself by illicitly trading in timber and gold.

However, independent analysts say that other armed groups, including Congolese army soldiers, have also been involved.

In a report last month, a UN panel of experts accused the former commander of army operations against the ADF, Muhindo Akili Mundos, of financing and equipping the group before he was transferred to other duties in June 2015.

Mundos denies the allegations.

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