Nine killed in suspected Ugandan rebel attack in DR Congo: UN

Democratic Republic of Congo soldiers march on December 31, 2013 in Eringeti towards the front line to fight against the Allied Democratic Forces (AFP Photo/Alain Wandimoyi)

Kinshasa (AFP) - Nine civilians were killed when suspected members of a notorious Ugandan Islamist group stormed a village in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo this week, UN peacekeepers said on Friday.

"The attack took place during the night of the 8th to 9th October when the rebels invaded the town of Oicha and killed nine people belonging to two families, including the children," the United Nations' Monusco peacekeeping mission said in a statement.

The attacks in the restive North Kivu province forced between 3,000 and 5,000 people to flee towards Beni, 30 kilometres (20 miles) to the south.

Monusco said the rebels may have come from the Allied Democratic Forces, an Ugandan Islamist group targeted by the Congolese army and UN peacekeepers since the start of the year.

The operations have weakened the rebels but local civil society groups have warned of renewed attacks by the ADF in recent days.

Monusco chief Martin Kobler said he was "profoundly shocked" by the latest attack that "demonstrates once again the need to continue and reinforce the battle against all the armed groups in DRC".

The North Kivu region, which borders Uganda, has been plagued by numerous armed groups for the past two decades, feeding off the region's lawlessness and rich mineral resources.

Congolese troops and UN peacekeepers launched a major offensive in January against the ADF, which is accused of widespread rights abuses including murder, rape and use of child soldiers. It finances itself by trafficking timber and gold.

ADF has been on the US list of terrorist organisations since 2001, and is the subject of UN and European Union sanctions.