At least 22 killed in eastern Congo village

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BENI, Congo (Reuters) - At least 22 people were killed in an overnight raid on a village in a part of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo plagued by Islamist rebel attacks, local authorities said on Tuesday.

The militants struck late on Monday, killing residents of Mwenda village with machetes and guns, its civil society leader Jeremi Mbweki said.

He blamed the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan Islamist group which has emerged as the most lethal militia in Congo's eastern borderlands and is suspected of hacking to death at least 17 people in a nearby village last week.

"Now we live in total fear, with no certainty about the future," Mbweki said by phone. The administrator of Beni territory, Donat Kibwana, confirmed the death toll and said the ADF was responsible.

More than 1,000 civilians were killed in attacks attributed to the ADF in 2019 and 2020, according to U.N. figures, despite repeated offensives by the army and U.N. peacekeepers against the group over the past decade.

Nine more bodies were discovered on Monday in another village in the area - also victims of an alleged ADF attack, Kibwana said.

Congo's eastern borderlands with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi have been ravaged by attacks by militias, many formed of remnants of groups that fought in Congo's civil wars around the turn of the century.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for many suspected ADF attacks in the past, although U.N. experts said last week that they have been unable to confirm any direct link between the two groups.

(Reporting by Erikas Mwisi Kambale,; Writing by Alessandra Prentice, editing by Ed Osmond)