Two homemade bombs exploded in the city of Beni on Sunday, June 27, including one inside a church – a first in this region of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) where the Allied Democratic Forces are rife. (ADF), an armed group affiliated with the jihadists of the Islamic State (IS), according to the United States.
Colonel Narcisse Muteba, police officer and also mayor of Beni, declared a curfew in the city on Sunday evening. “I don’t want to see anyone in the street, everyone barricading themselves because according to the information at our disposal, there is something that is still being prepared. I only want to see police and soldiers in the streets ”, he told reporters.
A first bomb detonated at 6 a.m. on Sunday: “A homemade bomb” placed inside an Assumptionist Catholic church, Colonel Muteba told AFP. Two women were injured, the explosion having taken place before the hour of rush of the faithful for an important ceremony of sacrament of confirmation to the children, specified to AFP the vicar general of Beni, Mgr Laurent Sondirya. “They targeted a large crowd because the ceremony will bring together children, their parents and the faithful”, explained the prelate, adding: “The Mass to administer the sacrament of Confirmation will not be postponed. “
Traces of blood were visible at the entrance to the church. Shards of glass and pieces of wood were strewn inside, next to badly damaged sound systems. “I had just entered the church, hardly I wanted to sit down I heard“ boom ”. Blood started to flow from my mouth. I lost four teeth ”, testifies, on her hospital bed, Antoinette Kavira, one of the victims, also injured in the arms. This is the first time that a building belonging to the Catholic Church, the most important religion in the city, has been directly targeted in the territory of Beni.
Attacks, massacres and beheadings
A few hours later, around 7:30 p.m., the bearer of a second bomb was killed in the explosion of his device near a bar where about ten people were drinking beer, in the commune of Rwenzori, declared Colonel Muteba. On Saturday, a bomb had already exploded on the outskirts of the city, next to a gas station, without causing damage. “It was a homemade bomb hidden under a trailer truck, but my services believed it was a puncture. This morning, I noticed that there were shards exactly as in the church ”, indicates the mayor of Beni.
The region has been terrorized for years by the ADF, which never takes responsibility for their attacks, massacres and beheadings. Originally the Ugandan Muslim rebels, the ADF have taken root for more than twenty-five years in the province of North Kivu. They have ceased their operations against neighboring Uganda and are accused of having massacred thousands of civilians. On March 11, the United States placed the ADF among the “Terrorist groups” affiliated with ISIS. Many questions have since been raised about the reality and depth of their supposed links with the terrorist organization. Since 2019, the latter has claimed, with supporting images and on its usual communication channels via social networks, some of the attacks attributed to the ADF.
On May 6, President Félix Tshisekedi declared a state of siege in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, with a view to putting an end to the murderous activities of the hundreds of local and foreign armed groups identified in the is Congolese by the Kivu Security Barometer. The ADF are the deadliest of these groups. In mid-June, the Head of State went to Beni, where he called on the population to “Collaborate” with the security forces in the face of this “Sneaky enemy”.