Suspected militants from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) attacked the town of Apetina-Sana (North Kivu province) on the night (local time) of Sunday, December 29, killing at least 18 civilians. The victims were reportedly stabbed, and several houses were set on fire during the attack.
A heightened security presence is expected in the area over the coming hours and days. Similar attacks are likely over the near term.
The government's limited presence in the DRC's eastern provinces, as well as the presence of numerous armed groups and local self-defense militias, have led to continued insecurity in the area.
The ADF is a Ugandan Islamist militant group that has been active in North Kivu province since the late 1990s. There has been local and international speculation regarding potential links between ADF rebels and Islamic State (IS) militants. According to local civil society activists, more than 200 civilians have been killed in almost daily attacks suspected to have been carried out by ADF militants in North Kivu since early November, when security operations began to combat ADF fighters.
Individuals in North Kivu province are advised to remain vigilant for militant activity, monitor developments to the situation, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.