(Bunia) Twenty civilians were killed on Saturday in two separate attacks in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where fighting also resumed between the army and the M23 rebels, we learned on Sunday from local sources.

In Ituri province, the Codeco (Cooperative for the Development of Congo) militia, which claims to protect the Lendu tribe against the Hema tribe, is accused of having attacked five villages in Mahagi territory on Saturday morning.

“So far we have counted 15 dead, mostly women, children and old people,” Arnold Lokwa, head of the “chefferie” (grouping of villages) of Panduru, told AFP.

In the neighboring province of North Kivu, it is the ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) rebels, affiliated with the jihadist group Islamic State (IS), who are accused of having killed at least nine people in the village of Nguli, in the territory of Lubero.

The victims “were killed with bladed weapons, machetes and knives”, a tenth person was seriously injured and “two children are missing”, village chief Kambale Kamboso told AFP.

IS claimed responsibility for the attack on Sunday. “On Saturday, Islamic State fighters launched an armed attack on the village of Nguli,” in North Kivu, according to a statement released by its propaganda outlet, Amaq.

Originally mainly Muslim Ugandan rebels, the ADF have been rooted since the mid-1990s in eastern DRC, where they are accused of having massacred thousands of civilians.

In the same province of North Kivu, but further south, fighting also resumed on Saturday between the army and the rebels of the M23 in the territory of Masisi, northwest of the provincial capital Goma, after a few days of ‘lull.

In a statement, the army accused the rebellion of attacking at least six of its positions and of committing “recurrent violations of the ceasefire”.

Residents interviewed by telephone reported fighting in the evening in Bihambwe, not far from the mining town of Rubaya.

The M23 (“March 23 Movement”) is a predominantly Tutsi rebellion – backed by Rwanda, according to Kinshasa and UN experts – that has seized large swathes of North Kivu territory for the past year.

After several announcements of cessation of hostilities not followed up, a ceasefire should have intervened on March 7 but was not respected either.

However, the fighting had stopped a few days this week, while the M23 withdrew from villages where Burundian soldiers from the force sent to the region by the Community of East African States (EAC) were deployed.

The eastern provinces of the DRC have been plagued by violence from dozens of armed groups for almost 30 years.