KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Rebels in eastern Congo attacked a village near a mine in Ituri province, killing at least 52 people, government officials said.

Fighters with the group known as CODECO attacked the town of Kablangete on Sunday, said Jean-Pierre Bikilisende, the mayor of Mongwalu which is 7 kilometers (4 miles) away.

In addition to those killed, 100 civilians are missing, Bikilisende said.

Congo’s government condemned the killings as a “barbaric and cowardly act of CODECO terrorists on innocent populations,” Congo’s Ministry of Communications said in a statement. The government said it is determined to restore peace in the region.

Jean Ladis Maboso, an administrator in the affected area, called for justice.

“We condemn this killing of civilians. The militiamen executed civilians in the absence of security elements,” he said. “It is a criminal act that cannot go unnoticed.”

In February, CODECO fighters attacked the Djugu area and killed at least 60 people.

Eastern Congo has been destabilized for years by attacks by several different rebel groups, including CODECO, that are vying for control of the mineral-rich area. The ongoing violence has prompted thousands of rural residents to flee their homes for safer areas.

The latest attack comes a week after discussions were held in Kenya between the Congolese government and rebel movements to try to establish peace and stability in the area.


AP writer Carley Petesch in Dakar, Senegal contributed.