An FDLR rebel  in eastern Congo
An FDLR rebel at the village of Peti in eastern Congo

At least 26 people have been killed in renewed attacks by a Rwandan militia group operating in Eastern DR Congo, the Congolese army said.

Several attacks have targeted villages in the South Kivu province in the last few days.

A Congolese army spokesperson has blamed the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a militant group known for its crimes in the region for the killings.

The militia attacked the villages and burned houses, between January 1 and January 3, killing 26 people and wounding dozens, all of them civilians.

"The first attack targeted the leadership of Luyuyu and killed 18 civilians while six houses were burned," Colonel Sylvain Ekenge, spokesperson for military operations in Nord and Sud Kivu, said.

"The second attack in the town of Ngolombe left eight dead."

The spokesperson added that the death toll is likely to rise and warned that army personnel had been deployed to fight off the rebels.

The attacks represent a surge of violence by the FDLR, which has remained active in the east of the country despite the end of the civil war eight years ago.

The group was formed by ethnic Hutu who had fled Rwanda in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide. The FDLR counts among its members original members of the interahamwe, a militia that committed most of the atrocities during the Rwandan genocide.

Since taking refuge in Congo, the rebels have regularly been accused of committing atrocities, including rapes, abductions, lootings and killings of civilians.