An eruption of ethnic violence in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo has killed more than 24 people and left hundreds of homes burned to the ground.

Congolese officials say the fighting exploded late last week in the Ituri province between Hema and Lendu ethnic groups.

It is unclear what set off the fighting, but the two groups have been bitter enemies for decades.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in the DRC says it will assess the situation.

Meanwhile, the United States has slapped sanctions on a Congolese military commander and three rebel leaders for "contributing to widespread poverty, chronic food insecurity, and population displacement."

The U.N. Security Council sanctioned the same four men last week for human rights violations.

Monday's action freezes all assets the four have in the United States and bars Americans from doing business with them.

"They are responsible for horrendous acts, including sexual abuse and forced military recruitment of children into positions requiring them to commit acts of violence, among other atrocities," said the head of the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, John Smith.

The four are Congolese General Muhindo Akili Mundos, and rebel leaders Gedeon Kyungu Mutanga, Guidon Shimiray Mwissa, and Lucien Nzabamwita.

Source: Voice of America

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