At least 24 killed in northeast Congo violence

Congolese authorities say at least two dozen people are dead in several villages following an outbreak of intercommunal violence in the country's northeast.

Lt. Jules Ngongo, the military spokesman for Ituri province, said Monday that the fighting started in the territory known as Djugu over the weekend.

The exact reason for the latest violence involving the Lendu and Hema communities was not immediately known. Some local officials said tensions were renewed in December.

Local authorities say teams are searching a nearby forest and fear the toll might rise.

Between 1999 and 2004, untold thousands lost their lives during conflicts between the Lendu and Hema. U.N. peacekeepers were dispatched to Congo to try to maintain order and remain in the region to this day battling various rebel groups.