Officials say militants from Allied Democratic Forces attacked a village in Beni region of North Kivu province, killing at least 12 farmers.

DRC's soldiers patrol an area in North Kivu province known to contain ADF militants, on December 11, 2018.
DRC's soldiers patrol an area in North Kivu province known to contain ADF militants, on December 11, 2018. (Reuters)

Militants believed to belong to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have killed at least 12 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) east.

The attack took place overnight on Friday-Saturday after a month of relative calm in the area, local sources said.

"Fighters from the Allied Democratic Forces massacred farmers from the village of Mabule in their fields," said Donat Kibuana, the administrator of the Beni region in North Kivu province.

At least eight men and four women "had their throats savagely slit in their fields by these ADF terrorists," said Roger Masimango, from a local network of civil society groups.

"We're still searching because we aren't hearing from some of the farmers," he added.

An expert in the area, who asked to remain anonymous, said 14 bodies had been found and more people were missing after the assault.

READ MORE: Dozens killed in militant attack on eastern DRC village

Many villages empty of people

An army offensive launched in the Rwenzori mountain region had caused a "relative decline" in the number of deadly attacks since early January, administrator Kibuana said.

He added that "many villages are empty" of people who have fled the fighting.

But the ADF, one of the most violent among dozens of armed groups in the eastern DRC, is believed to have killed 21 civilians on February 5 in Rwenzori.

READ MORE: Several rangers killed in DRC jungle, home to endangered gorillas

Originally Ugandan rebels, the ADF settled in the DRC in 1995.
Originally Ugandan rebels, the ADF settled in the DRC in 1995. (TRTWorld)

Hundreds killed since mid-2020

The UN's human rights office in the DRC said on Wednesday that defence and security forces had made "significant efforts to dismantle" the militia.

Nevertheless, it said 468 deaths in the east were attributed to the group in the second half of 2020, including 108 women and 15 children.

Originally Ugandan rebels, the ADF settled in the DRC in 1995.

In recent years they have given up on attacks in neighbouring Uganda, but have carried out repeated massacres in the Beni region of the DRC, killing more than 1,000 people since October 2014.

Source: AFP