By Erikas Mwisi Kambale
BENI, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) - Militiamen killed at least 20 people on Sunday in an attack on a displaced persons camp in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a local chief and a civil rights group said.
They blamed the attack on the CODECO militia, which has killed hundreds of civilians in Congo's Ituri province and forced thousands to flee their homes in the last few years.
Army spokesman Jules Ngongo Tshikudi confirmed the attack on Sunday near the village of Drodro, but did not give a death toll.
Local chief Pilo Mulindro Willy said 20 people were killed, while civil rights group president Charite Banza put the toll at 22.
"This is the third attack by these outlaws against displacement sites in the space of a week in this part of the country, causing more than 50 deaths and enormous material damage," said Banza.
The government said that CODECO fighters killed about 20 people in the same area last Sunday.
CODECO's fighters are drawn mainly from the Lendu farming community, which has long been in conflict with Hema herders.
Ituri and neighbouring North Kivu province have been run by military officers since May when the government declared a state of siege in response to rampant violence, but the killings have shown no sign of abating.
(Reporting by Erikas Mwisi Kambale in Beni; Writing by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Matthew Lewis)