A spokesman for Congo's army says it has launched an offensive in the east against a group of Islamic rebel fighters led by Ugandan commanders.

Col. Olivier Hamuli said Friday on the United Nations-run Radio Okapi that the army was involved in heavy fighting and that it intended to wipe out the group within days.

ADF-NALU, active in Congo's volatile east, boasts at least 800 fighters and reportedly abducted at least 80 Congolese civilians during the first half of last year, according to U.N. experts.

Earlier this month a colonel who played a leading role in defeating the notorious M23 rebel group late last year was killed while trying to flush out ADF-NALU near the town of Beni.

The operation is backed by U.N. peacekeepers in Congo.