Gangs with machetes and guns killed at least 12 civilians, including two children, in twin overnight attacks in north-east Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) blamed on the Allied Democratic Forces militia group, an official said on Tuesday.
In the first attack in North Kivu province, nine civilians were killed and four wounded at Oicha Mabasele near the city of Beni, regional administrator Donat Kibwana told AFP news agency.
At the same time, in Eringeti town, three civilians were killed, also by suspected ADF members, he said.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Dozens of militias operate in North and South Kivu provinces of the DRC, a vast country the size of western continental Europe, also hit by Ebola disease.
The ADF, a group that arose in western Uganda in 1995, has been blamed for massacring hundreds of civilians, killing UN peacekeepers and DRC troops, and for a number of kidnappings of medical and other staff.
DRC also faces what is being billed as the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history. The disease has killed more than 1,700 and has been declared an international health emergency by the World Health Organization.
The army confirmed the attacks on Tuesday and said it was hunting the assailants.
But locals were critical.
Locals in panic
"We alerted the authorities about the presence of the ADF near Oicha several weeks ago," said local representative Noella Muliwavyio, adding the population has been "thrown into panic."
Resident Pascal Soli, a nurse, said he fled with his four children to the local hospital to hide when the shots rang out and later found out his neighbour had been "slaughtered."
Several inhabitants of Oicha have fled their homes to the city of Beni, witnesses told AFP.