A vigilante group killed at least five people in an apparent reprisal attack in the volatile east of the DR Congo overnight, a military spokesman said Monday. Eight people were hurt in the attack in Mikenge, a town in South Kivu province some 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Minembwe, where communal conflicts are common. Major Dieudonne Kasereka, the region’s army spokesman, said the attack was carried out by fighters of the Ngumino Twigwaneho coalition to avenge recent attacks. The fighters are members of the Banyamulenge community — Congolese Tutsi with distant origins in neighbouring Rwanda. Twigwaneho means “self-defence”, while Ngumino means “We are staying here”. Kasereka said around a dozen homes were torched and that women, children and elderly people were among the victims. He said the army moved in early Monday and freed villagers who had been taken hostage. The east of the DR Congo, a vast country the size of continental western Europe, has been unstable for more than a quarter of a century, gripped firstly by full-blown regional wars and then by marauding militias. Armed groups typically claiming to defend ethnic groups carry out attacks on civilians and kidnappings, often clashing with rivals over valuable mining resources.