A series of brutal attacks against Congolese civilians by Islamic militants are possible war crimes, United Nations monitors said Monday.
Eighteen months of attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have killed more than 1,000 civilians, the U.N. Joint Human Rights Office says in a new report.
"In the majority of cases, the means and the modus operandi of the attacks indicate a clear intention to leave no survivors. Entire families have been hacked to death," it said, adding that attacks "may amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes."
According to the report, ADF extremists used assault rifles, mortars, machetes and knives against villagers. The fighters have burned down schools and health centers and kidnapped women and children, looking to recruit them.
DRC President Felix Tshisekedi deployed about 22,000 troops to the border with Uganda late last year to root out the ADF and destroy their bases.
But the U.N. report also accuses Congolese security forces of serious human rights violations in their campaign against the ADF.
"We call on the state authorities to step up efforts to complete pending judicial cases into all allegations of human rights violations and abuses; to bring all alleged perpetrators to justice; and to ensure the right to truth, justice and reparations for the victims and their families," said Leila Zerrougui, head of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in DRC.
Observers say the Ugandan-based ADF has been active in the Democratic Republic of Congo since the early 1990s, one of several militia groups looking to control DRC territory.