Militant killings more than doubled in Congo in 2020, U.N. says

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GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) - Killings by armed groups in the Democratic Repubic of Congo more than doubled last year, the United Nations said on Wednesday, underlining spiralling violence in the country's east two years after Felix Tshisekedi became president.

The U.N. Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) said militias executed at least 2,487 civilians in 2020, up from 1,029 the previous year.

Fighters from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan Islamist armed group, were responsible for a third of the deaths, which included the killing of more than 200 women and 26 children in the restive provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, it said.

"These attacks are part of the ADF's strategy of sowing terror in these areas in retaliation against the operations by the (army) and to control territory in order to carry out various trafficking activities," UNJHRO said in a statement.

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

Tshisekedi emerged as the victor of a disputed election in January 2019, pledging to address decades of armed conflict in the mineral-rich east.

(Corrects country spelling in paragraph 1)

(Reporting by Hereward Holland; Editing by Nick Macfie)