After suicide bombing, eastern Congo mayor fears more attacks

BENI, CONGO – Authorities in Congo urged churches, restaurants and hotels to increase security on Sunday, fearing more violence after a suicide bomber killed five people. in eastern Congo in the first attack of its kind.

Beni Mayor Narcisse Muteba, a police colonel, warned owners of popular venues in the town of Beni that they need more security guards with metal detectors because “terrorists” could attack. once again.

“We are asking people to stay vigilant and avoid public places during this festive period,” Muteba told The Associated Press Sunday.

Officials initially put the death toll at six plus the suicide bomber, but Muteba adjusted that number a day later to five. Another 13 people are still hospitalized after the explosion at the entrance to the Inbox restaurant on Christmas Day.

Saturday’s bloodshed has dramatically raised concerns that Islamic extremism has taken hold in Beni, which has suffered years of militant attacks from the Allied Democratic Forces, or also known as ADF.

Muteba has blamed the latest attack on rebels, whose exact links to international extremist groups remain unclear. The Central African province of the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks perpetrated by the ADF, but it is not yet known exactly what role the larger organization may have played in organizing and funding the attacks. attack.

There have been worrying signs that religious extremism is escalating around Beni: Two local leaders were killed earlier this year within weeks of each other, one of which spoke out against back to ADF.

Then in June, the Islamic State group’s Central African province claimed responsibility for a suicide bomber who blew himself up near a bar in Beni without harming others. Another explosion occurred the same day at a Catholic church, injuring two people.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Saturday’s attack, in which authorities say the bomber was eventually stopped when he entered the crowded restaurant. After the explosion near the entrance, blood splattered the pavement and chipped chairs were scattered near the entrance.

Rachel Magali, who was at the restaurant with her sister-in-law and several others, described hearing a loud noise and then people starting to cry.

“We ran to the exit, where I saw people lying down,” she told the AP. “There were green plastic chairs scattered all over the place and I also saw that the head and arms were no longer attached. It was really horrible.”


Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal contributed.


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