The UN and local officials said on Wednesday that assailants armed with machetes hacked at least 16 civilians to death in a nighttime raid at a village in the volatile east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Local administrator Bernard Amisi Kalonda said the deadly raid took place late on Tuesday in the Beni region of North Kivu province, an area which has witnessed several attacks in the past.
"Between 8 pm and 10 pm (1900 GMT and 2100 GMT), the enemy managed to get past army positions and kill peaceful residents in their homes, slashing their throats," he said.
"The 16 bodies are in front of me, killed by machete or axe."
Also, General Jean Baillaud, the military chief of the UN mission in the DR Congo MONUSCO, said there were 17 dead.
However, he was not able to confirm if the assailants were Ugandan rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), who frequently launch attacks in the region.
The region has suffered several turmoil for two decades, ignited by local armed groups and others committing ethnic-related violence, or disputes over land and area’s mineral resources.
"Around 8 pm, we heard people shouting and the sound of bullets," said Adona Lesse, head of Eringeti village, adding that a search was continuing for more possible victims.
Since 2014, more than 500 people have been killed by the ADF rebels accused of launching several bloody attacks on civilians in Beni and neighbouring Ituri region, the United Nations said.