(CNN)Forty-six people from the ethnic Pygmy group were killed -- some of them decapitated -- on Wednesday in a suspected militant attack in northeast Democratic Republic of Congo, according to an NGO official based in the central African country.
Dozens killed, some decapitated, in suspected rebel attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo
An armed group shot civilians and decapitated others with machetes in Ambedi, a village in Irumu territory in Ituri province, said Christophe Munyanderu, regional coordinator for the NGO Convention pour le respect de droit de l'homme, or Convention for the Respect of Human Rights.
A spokesman for the Armed Forces of the DRC in Ituri attributed the attack to the Allied Democratic Forces, a rebel group that operates in the region. Two of the assailants were arrested and are currently under interrogation, the spokesman said.
Most of the victims were women and children, said Rachel Taruwayo, the regional coordinator for the provincial government.
Munyanderu said that a Pygmy who was hunting during the attack determined the death toll. When he returned to the village, Munyanderu said, he found a female survivor with a gunshot wound and a two-year-old child whose hand had been chopped off.
On Thursday, they reached a police post about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the scene of the attack and were taken to a hospital. The woman and child are now out of danger, said David Dedonga, a doctor at Bwanasura hospital.
The ADF has intensified its attacks against civilians in the eastern provinces of the DRC in recent years, the United Nations said in July. These attacks have left more than 1,000 dead between January 2019 and June 2020 and may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, according to the UN.
The group has battled governments in East Africa since the 1990s and has ties to several international jihadi groups.