KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Congo's president has promised to neutralize rebels that have killed hundreds of people in attacks this year in the country's east.
President Joseph Kabila made the promise Saturday during a visit to Oicha, the capital of Beni territory in Congo's North Kivu province, about 220 miles (350 kilometers) north of Goma.
Beni territory has been the site of repeated attacks by the Allied Defense Forces rebels, who have origins in neighboring Uganda. Those attacks have killed at least 500 civilians since October 2014, according to the United Nations.
"My major concern is summed up by the re-establishment of peace in this part of the country through the total annihilation" of rebels suspected to be from the ADF, Kabila said.
He said the government is making "considerable efforts" to help those displaced by the violence.
Eastern Congo is home to myriad armed groups, many vying for control of the region's vast mineral resources.
Kabila, whose government has been criticized for not stopping the continued attacks, called on youths to enlist in Congo's army.
Congo's army and U.N. peacekeepers launched an operation against the rebels last December. The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo includes a force intervention brigade with a special mandate to take offensive military action against rebel groups.
Another rebel group has killed 27 civilians and burned down 3,300 homes in Walikale territory over the past two months, according to the Center of Study for the Promotion of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights, a local group that tracks rebel attacks.
The Rwandan Hutu rebels, known by their French acronym FDLR, were responsible for the destruction in about seven villages about 140 miles (230 kilometers) west of Goma, the center's executive director, Omar Kavota, said Sunday.
Dozens have also gone missing, he said, calling on the government to find an urgent solution to the violence.