Kinshasa: Clashes between rebels and soldiers in eastern Congo killed at least 30 people, including civilians and a United Nations peacekeeper, the director of an activist group said today.
Rebels from the Allied Defense Forces attacked government forces yesterday in Eringeti in North Kivu province, said Omar Kavota, executive director of a local group that tracks these attacks.
The United Nations said its nearby base was also attacked.
Rebels, a UN peacekeeper, civilians and soldiers were among the dead after 10 hours of fighting, according to the information from the Center of Study for the Promotion of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights.
At least 10 others were injured and 43 homes burned in the town, located 55 kilometers north of Beni. The area has been the site of repeated attacks by the rebels, who have origins in neighboring Uganda. Those attacks have killed at least 500 civilians since October 2014, according to the UN.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the violence in a statement today, identifying the nationality of the killed peacekeeper as Malawian. The secretary-general called for swift action to bring the attackers to justice.
Congo's army and UN peacekeepers launched an operation against the rebels in December.
Witnesses told the rights group that some attackers called out a jihadi slogan. Most residents fled the town and fighting eventually ceased, Kavato said.
The activist group called on the government and international community to act to be sure jihadism does not emerge in eastern Congo, which is home to myriad armed groups, many vying for control of the region's vast mineral resources.
The UN peacekeeping mission in Congo includes a force intervention brigade with a unique mandate to take offensive military action against rebel groups that have plagued the vast region since the Rwanda genocide two decades ago.