DRC is reeling from a number of mass murders in recent days. On Sunday (25 December) an ethnic Nande militia killed 13 Hutu civilians in the town of Nyanzale, using guns and machetes.

Local activist Innocent Gasigwa said the attack appeared to be retaliation for a massacre on Thursday, carried out by an ethnic Hutu militia, that left 17 civiliand and two militiamen dead in nearby village.

On Saturday, 21 civilians and four militia were killed in attacks near Beni, said local army spokesman Captain Mak Hazukay, speaking to Reuters.

Regional official Amisi Kalonda blamed Saturday's attack on Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a group comprised of puritanical Ugandan Muslims. "The ADF has yet again plunged the people of Eringeti and its surrounding areas into mourning.

"Yesterday, they killed 10 civilians. Twelve other bodies were found (Sunday) in the surrounding villages. The modus operandi is always the same," he told AFP from the North Kivu capital Goma. Kalonda added that the victims were either killed with knives or machetes.

DRC's Catholic church head, Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo, spread a message via churches, saying: "The time is over when one tried to hold onto power with arms by killing one's people, these young people who only seek out their right to live with a little more dignity."

At least 40 died last week during anti-government protests. The unrest erupted after President Joseph Kabila, who is bound by the constitution to step down as he has served two consecutive terms in power, refused to leave office when his term expired on 20 December.

However, in a surprise move on Friday, the ruling government and the opposition bloc in the Democratic Republic Congo ( DRC) have agreed in principle to keep incumbent Kabila in power until the end of 2017.

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Map of massacres DRC
Map of the region of Beni in the Democratic Republic of Congo between December 2013 and January 2016 by Congo Research Group IBTimes UK