The United Nations (UN) says 20 people have been killed and dozens more abducted in multiple attacks in eastern Democratic Republic (DR) of Congo.
The dead included children and at least four patients who were burnt alive at a church clinic in North Kivu province.
The attack was blamed on fighters from the Islamic State-affiliated group, Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
It was known as the deadliest armed group operating in the country and has been designated as a terrorist outfit by the US.
Witnesses said intense fighting was still ongoing in the volatile North Kivu province where the Congolese army and UN peacekeepers were engaging fighters from the group.
The rebel attacks began last Thursday when the armed group attacked a local clinic in Lume town – where they killed several people including the four patients who were burnt alive in the health facility.
The UN mission in DR Congo said hundreds of houses in nearby villages have also been razed down.
Dozens of people including at least 30 children were reported missing and were believed to have been abducted by the group.
Peacekeepers have also exchanged fire with the fighters in Ituri province.
Mineral-rich DR Congo has witnessed a recent resurgence in conflict involving several armed groups including the M23 movement and the ADF.
Last month, the East African Community leaders agreed to send a regional force to help the Congolese government counter the violence in the east.
A former member of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the rebels blamed for the recent suicide bombings in Uganda’s capital, said the Islamic-State linked group used fear to keep its recruits in line.
“The group is run on Sharia. If you steal, you lose an arm. If you rape a child, you die. If you tell a lie about someone and you’re found out, you die,” Peter, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, told the BBC.
He chuckled rather menacingly throughout our conversation – seemingly to deflect from the trauma he carried.
The young man was forcibly recruited and spent two years as a militant, witnessing amputations and beheadings – sometimes of his comrades. -BBC