At least 22 civilians have been killed in an attack on a camp for internally displaced people in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo, an aid worker and civil rights leader have said.
Red Cross coordinator Mambo Bapu Mance told the AFP news agency on Monday that 20 people were buried immediately in two common graves, while another two who died of their wounds were buried later.
The same camp in Ituri province was attacked less than a week ago when 29 people were killed.
Mance accused the armed group Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) of carrying out the attack on Ivo camp on Sunday.
Civil rights group president Charite Banza put the toll at 22.
“This is the third attack by these outlaws against displacement sites in the space of a week in this part of the country, causing more than 50 deaths and enormous material damage,” Banza told the Reuters news agency.
The Kivu Security Tracker (KST), a US-based monitor of violence in the region, cited the same death toll.
The army spokesman in the region, Lieutenant Jules Ngongo, said the CODECO rebels were repelled, but did not elaborate.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called for strong action against the perpetrators.
“The EU condemns the new appalling attacks committed by the militia against civilian populations, particularly the internally displaced persons,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Decisiveness against the perpetrators and support justice for the victims are necessary for a lasting peace in the region.”
Gold-rich Ituri province has been plunged back into a cycle of violence since late 2017 with the rise of the CODECO militia, which has since split into rival factions.
Ituri and neighbouring North Kivu have been under a state of siege since May 6, an exceptional measure to combat armed groups including CODECO and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
Civilian authorities have been replaced by military and police officers.
Two other attacks took place overnight Saturday elsewhere in Ituri, leaving a total of nine civilians dead, civil society leader Isaac Nyakuklinda told AFP.