BENI, Democratic Republic of Congo—ISIS terrorists killed at least 35 people in an overnight attack on a village in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on March 9, in retaliation for a military crackdown on rebel activity, an army spokesman said.
The assailants were members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), Anthony Mualushayi said, referring to a Ugandan armed group based in eastern Congo that has pledged allegiance to the ISIS terrorist group and conducts frequent raids on villages.
The village of Mukondi, around 30 km (20 miles) south of the city of Beni in North Kivu Province, is in an area plagued by rebel activity that has been under military administration since 2021 in an attempt to restore order.
Mualushayi gave a provisional death toll of 35 civilians in a recorded interview with a local radio reporter that was shared on WhatsApp and verified by Reuters. He said the attack was carried out in retaliation for the army detaining more than 22 ADF collaborators and closing pharmacies that allegedly supply the group with chemicals to make bombs.
The situation on the ground was relatively calm, with security forces and Red Cross workers at the scene and burial preparations underway, he said.
Soldiers were chasing the rebels to rescue hostages, he added.
Provincial Gov. Carly Nzanzu Kasivita said on Twitter on March 9 that at least 36 people had been killed in the attack, which began a day earlier.
The head of a local civil society group, Mumbere Limbadu Arsene, gave a provisional death toll of 44, including women, children and the elderly, and said several villagers were still missing.
Both sources also blamed the ADF, which was created in Uganda before moving to eastern Congo in the 1990s and has been blamed for thousands of deaths in the last decade.
In 2021, Congo's government declared a state of siege in North Kivu and neighboring Ituri Province, in an attempt to stem rampant extremist violence in the country's vast mineral-rich east. However, the killings and rebel activity have shown no signs of abating.