Congolese soldiers gather for a military briefing. REUTERS/Kenny Katombe

Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo - The Congolese army on Monday took a main rebel base in the east of the country, killing 62 and capturing 118 insurgents in the fighting, an army spokesman said.

The seizure of base, located inside Virunga National Park, is part an offensive launched last month against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) after it failed to honour a deadline to disarm.

Government forces have reported several territorial gains. The announcement on Monday could not be independently verified.

Activists urged the army to extend its operations, saying the FDLR was withdrawing to areas where it is taking revenge on civilians it accuses of siding with the government.

Donatien Mongane cited the case of the village of Kinyabwinda, which was burned to the ground. No lives were lost as the residents had fled before the rebels arrived.

UN peacekeepers in Congo have declined to support the military operation because two army generals are suspected of human rights abuses.

The FDLR includes Rwandan Hutus involved in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, which killed 800 000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

A Tutsi-led government then took power in Rwanda and many Hutus fled to neighbouring Congo.

The FDLR is estimated to number about 1 400 fighters.

Dozens of armed groups are creating instability in eastern Congo, where they compete for control over the region's rich mineral resources.

Sapa-dpa