Thousands of people fled the Beni region of North Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after almost 40 Christians were hacked to death recently.
On May 3, suspected Islamic militants attacked Christian villagers in the eastern region of the DRC. Although local administrator Bernard Amisi Kalonda earlier said that the hacking had left 16 people dead, advocacy group Open Doors cited local sources saying 34 to 38 people were killed in the incident, according to Bos News Life.
"Between 20:00 and 22:00 [local time] the enemy managed to get past army positions and kill peaceful residents in their homes, slashing their throats," Kalonda told reporters earlier. "The 16 bodies are in front of me, killed by machete or axe."
Local sources also said two elders of the CommunautÃ© EvangÃ©lique au Centre de l'Afrique (CECA 20) Church and their wives were also killed in the attack. The violent incident has reportedly prompted thousands of people to flee the region.
A Christian missionary, whose name has been withheld for security reasons, told Open Doors how "eerie" the deserted area looked. He also described how the once thriving community has turned into a ghost town after people packed up their belongings and left their homes, Christians in Pakistan relays.
However, another unnamed pastor said there were still some people who chose to stay behind despite the fear they felt. Those who remain in the area are hoping that the situation would eventually go back to normal.
The eastern region of DRC has long been infested with Islamic militants, the United Nations says. Open Doors added that the militants have also attacked the area where 95.8 percent of the population is Christian.
Meanwhile, authorities are still trying to confirm if the group of Ugandan militants Muslim Defense International, also called the Alliance of Democratic Forces, is behind the recent killings of the Christian villagers. The said group is known to kidnap and murder Christians every now and then.