A human rights group accuses Rwanda's government of killing at least 37 people in recent months over suspected petty crimes that included stealing items such as bananas or a cow.

Human Rights Watch on Thursday called for the East African nation's security forces to be held accountable for the killings it says have taken place since April 2016. It says the killings are meant to enforce order.

Rwanda's government did not immediately comment on the allegations. Officials have said they don't care what rights groups say and often accuse them of bias. Local authorities in Rubavu and Rutsiro districts, where the alleged killings took place, told the rights group such executions never occurred.

The report comes shortly before next month's election, which President Paul Kagame is widely expected to win.