The head of a Congo army operation against rebels in the country's east says it has freed 26 people held by a Uganda-based rebel group.

Cpt. Mak Hazukay Mongba said Wednesday the army has freed the hostages over the past several days.

Some of the freed hostages said the rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces want Congo's army to recognize they control parts of Beni.

Omar Kavota, director of a local rights group, said the rebel group presents a regional threat because it aims to take control in Uganda.

The ADF rebels are among scores of armed groups vying for control in mineral-rich eastern Congo and are blamed for killing nearly 700 civilians since October 2014.