At least 26 people have been killed and 13 wounded so far this year in two attacks by Rwandan Hutu rebels in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, an army official said Wednesday.
The attacks - blamed on the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) - took place on the nights of January 1 and 3 in the Shabunda region in Sud Kivu province.
"The first attack targeted the leadership of Luyuyu and killed 18 civilians while six houses were burned," Colonel Sylvain Ekenge, spokesman for military operations in Nord and Sud Kivu, told AFP.
"The second attack in the town of Ngolombe left eight dead."
Overall 13 people had been injured, he said.
A rights group cited by Radio Okapi said that in total 40 people had died.
Ekenge said the toll may indeed be higher, saying that "men on the ground tell us that there are more than 26 killed and 13 wounded".
The rebels are accused of having taken part in the 1994 genocide in neighbouring Rwanda, where 800,000 were killed according to the UN.
They are regularly accused of committing atrocities, including rapes, murders and looting, especially against civilians.
Ekenge said two battalions had been deployed in the isolated area "to put pressure on the FDLR".