File picture: Tony Karumba/AFP

Goma - Four days of ethnic clashes left more than 30 people dead in Congo's north-eastern Ituri region, according to the central African country's powerful Catholic church.

At least 12 others were injured in the fighting between the Lendu and Hema tribes, and hundreds of homes were torched, the church said in a statement late Sunday.

Abdallah Pene Mbaka, the provincial governor, confirmed the clashes but did not give the number of deaths.

"We have increased the military and police presence there," he told dpa.

In the early 2000s thousands of people died at the height of ethnic violence in Ituri. Numerous rebel groups are also active in eastern Congo, primarily fighting over the area's rich mineral resources.