'Number three' Ugandan rebel leader killed: army

Democratic Republic of Congo soldiers clashed with rebels, killing a rebel leader, authorities say (AFP Photo/Alain Wandimoyi) (AFP/File)

Kinshasa (AFP) - A leader of the Ugandan rebels accused of slaughtering over 300 people in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has been killed in a clash with government forces, authorities said Wednesday.

In overnight fighting between April 24-25, DR Congo soldiers in the restive North Kivu province killed Kasada Karume, number three in the leadership of Muslim rebels the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

"The body of this terrorist, member of the inner circle of ADF, was formally identified by all the (security) services that have his photo," Congolese army spokesman General Leon-Richard Kasonga said in a statement.

The United Nations peacekeeping force in DR Congo MONUSCO said at a Wednesday press conference that a rebel leader, who was not named, was killed on April 24 during an ambush against a retreating "armed group."

The incident occurred at a rebel camp in Bango that is about 100 kilometres (62 miles) from the town of Beni and its surroundings, where over 260 people, mostly civilians, were hacked to death between October and December last year.

Congolese authorities, military experts and the UN blamed the killings on militants from the ADF, which is based in eastern Congo.

The rebels, who are said to number around 400, have been active in the region since being driven out of their homeland in 1995.

After soldiers seized the rebel camp they also discovered "mass graves where hostages were to be buried, along with wounded people and dependants unable to leave whom the ADF would have executed," Kasonga said.

MONUSCO said it received reports of 47 bodies in five mass graves in Bango and has deployed human rights investigators to the area.

Since the start of the year at least 60 people have died in attacks in and around Beni as well as the Orientale province.

The most recent killings saw 19 people massacred on April 15 in Beni and nine days later five more were killed in the same area.