The army and the Red Cross said at least 27 civilians were killed by members of a notorious rebel group in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Kivu Security Tracker (KST), which monitors violence in the area through a team of experts on the ground, said on Twitter that at least 27 civilians were killed in the ADF attack on Saturday.

“We heard gunshots this morning in the village of Bio Manyama,” army spokesman Anthony Mwalushi told AFP on Saturday. “By the time we arrived, it was already too late because the enemy ADF had already killed over a dozen of our citizens with machetes.”

The Alliance of Democratic Forces, described by the Islamic State as a local branch of it, has been accused of killing thousands of civilians in the restive eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Moshaye said that after the attack, which occurred in the early hours of Saturday morning in Beni district, North Kivu province, soldiers chased after the attackers and “neutralised seven ADF” and arrested another.

Earlier on Saturday, the head of the local Red Cross, Philippe Bonan, said the civilian death toll had reached 24 and was overseeing the transportation of the bodies to the morgue.

The massacre comes after nearly a month of relative calm in Beni, where the Congolese and Ugandan armies have been conducting joint military operations against the ADF since late November.

Another Red Cross official said on Friday that soldiers in neighboring Ituri province had found 17 decapitated bodies believed to be also Australian Defense Force casualties.

More than 120 armed groups roam the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and massacres of civilians are common.

Ituri and North Kivu have been under an official “state of siege” since May last year, and top administrators have been replaced by the army and police to stem attacks by armed groups.

Despite this, the authorities have not been able to stop the massacres that are regularly committed against civilians.