KINSHASA (Reuters) - Attackers with automatic weapons killed at least eight people in a town in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday, the army said, as a wave of violence in the area entered its third year.
Seven of the dead in Beni were civilians and the other a soldier, army spokesman Mak Hazukay told Reuters. "It's too early to give a definitive death toll," he said.
The army had found another body - believed to be one of the attackers who struck soon before sunset, he added.
The United Nations says more than 700 civilians have been killed near Beni since October 2014, most in overnight raids by rebels carried out with machetes and hatchets.
The government has blamed nearly all the violence there on the Allied Democratic Forces, a secretive Ugandan Islamist group based in eastern Congo since the 1990s.
However, a United Nations panel of experts and independent analysts says that other armed groups, including some Congolese soldiers, have been involved in attacks on civilians.
Eastern Congo is plagued by dozens of armed groups that prey on locals and exploit mineral reserves. Millions died there between 1996 and 2003 as a regional conflict caused hunger and disease.
New York-based Human Rights Watch last week called on the army and U.N. peackeepers to come up with a new strategy to protect civilians around Beni, and called on the International Criminal Court to look into the killings.
Reporting By Aaron Ross; Editing by Andrew Heavens