At least 34 civilians have been killed by militias in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo over the weekend.
According to local activists, the mounting violence stokes concerns over political instability as attacks have surged across the country in the past week alongside violent protests over President Joseph Kabila's failure to step down at the end of his constitutional mandate on 20 December, reports the Guardian.
However, it is not clear that all the violence is related to Kabila failing to step down.
According to local activist Innocent Gasigwa, an ethnic Nande militia killed at least 13 Hutu civilians on 25 December in the eastern town of Nyanzale with guns and machetes in an apparent revenge attack for the deaths of Nande civilians last week.
"This must be the response for last time," Gasigwa said, referring to an attack on 22 December by Nyatura, an ethnic Hutu militia that killed at least 17 civilians in a nearby village.
According to media reports, on 24 December, 21 civilians and four militiamen were killed in attacks near the city of Beni, 300km (185 miles) north of Nyanzale.
While the government blames the Alllied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan Islamist group, other reports suggest that other groups, including elements of the Congolese army, may have taken part.
Meanwhile, at least 40 people died last week in protests against Kabila's refusal to step down at the end of his constitutional mandate on 20 December.
The government says it will remain in office until an election is organised in 2018.
Millions have died between 1996 and 2003 in regional wars in the country. The central African nation has not achieved a peaceful transfer of power since independence in 1960.