BENI, Democratic Republic of Congo, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- Suspected members of a Ugandan rebel group killed at least eight people in two villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo, officials said Tuesday.
The attacks occurred in the villages of Mukoko and Tenambo, in the east of the country near Beni.
Fabrice Mupili, a civil society member in Beni, told Xinhua news agency the attack was conducted by militants with the Allied Democratic Forces, a western Ugandan Muslim rebel group that formed in the late 1990s.
"The mode of operation remains the same because almost all the victims were killed by machete, hence confirming the presence of ADF," Mupili said.
Military sources and United Nations officials confirmed the attack but did not elaborate on details. A spokesman for the U.N. mission in the country said it was collecting information to establish a definitive death toll.
Civil society groups in North Kivu province say ADF militants have killed more than 400 people around Beni since October 2014, including incidents late last year in which at least 200 were hacked to death by the group.
The killings prompted the Congolese military to launch a U.N.-backed offensive against the ADF, one of many militant groups in the country.
In May, two Tanzanian peacekeepers were killed and 13 injured during an ADF ambush on a U.N. convoy near Beni.
A 3,000-member U.N. Intervention Brigade deployed to combat rebels in eastern portions of the Democratic Republic of Congo in July 2013, and M23 rebels signed a peace agreement with the government in December of that year.
Martin Kobler, the top U.N. official in the country, last week said political tensions were running high ahead of national elections in 2016, noting efforts to reintegrate M23 rebels, many of whom were still sojourning in Rwanda and Uganda camps, had so far failed.
"This is a time bomb that must be urgently defused," he said.
Kobler added that U.N. and Congolese military efforts had resulted in the return of tens of thousands of refugees to the country.
"Further west in the Beni area, however, the population continues to experience the anguish of armed conflict," Kobler said. "The 440 terror victims in one year alone speak a clear language. The ADF is far from being defeated."