Local sources say at least 16 people killed, all victims who had been taken hostage weeks earlier by members of the Allied Democratic Forces, which the US says is linked to the Daesh terrorist group.

Soldiers from the UN mission in DRC patrol in the violence-torn Djugu territory, Ituri province.
Soldiers from the UN mission in DRC patrol in the violence-torn Djugu territory, Ituri province. (SAMIR TOUNSI / AFP)

At least 16 people have been killed in an attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s east, believed to be the work of militant groups.

Local civilian sources said on Tuesday that the victims of Monday's attack, including two women, had been taken hostage weeks earlier by members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which the US says is linked to the Daesh terrorist group.

The hostages were knifed to death along a main highway near Idohu, in the restive Ituri province, local official Dieudonne Malangai said.

READ MORE: ADF militia kills scores in eastern DRC

Ituri's military governor Johnny Luboya Nkashama speaking in Komanda, some 40 kilometres from the incident, condemned the  killings.

"We will reinforce our presence in the region," he told AFP.

The vast central African country's government has placed Ituri and the neighbouring North Kivu province under a state of siege since May, in a move aimed at stepping up the fight against armed groups.

The ADF is the deadliest of the militias operating in the region.

It began as an armed Ugandan Muslim group, and has been active in mineral-rich eastern Democratic Republic of Congo for 30 years.

READ MORE: Scores killed in series of militia attacks in eastern DRC

The DRC's Catholic Church says the ADF has killed around 6,000 civilians since 2013, while a respected US-based monitor, the Kivu Security Tracker, blames it for more than 1,200 deaths in the Beni area alone since 2017.

Source: AFP