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East Congo attack kills 18 people, local official says

BENI, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) - Armed men attacked a village in the eastern Congolese province of Ituri on Thursday, killing at least 18 people and injuring 12, a local official said.

The region is plagued by myriad armed groups and violence has forced millions to flee their homes.

Colonel Jean Siro Simba Bunga, administrator of Irumu territory where the attack happened, said the assailants had burned three bodies but another 15 would be buried.

"We are deploring this situation," he said, blaming local militia for the "needless deaths."

Survivor Alain Kalito said children were among the victims and that his father was severely injured.

"It has been difficult to identify the perpetrators, as we were all scared and fled after they entered," he said.

Christophe Munyanderu, coordinator of a Congolese human rights organization for Irumu territory, said the attack had uprooted many again.

"This attack is condemned by everyone because it was an entity where the population was gradually beginning to recover, but now this attack has once again caused massive displacement of civilians," he said.

(Reporting by Erikas Mwisi Kambale; Additional reporting by Sonia Rolley; Writing by Anait Miridzhanian; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)