Suicide bombing in Congo: At least 5 killed in Beni

The explosion happened at the INBOX bar, where people were celebrating Christmas, according to a security official in Beni.

The attack marked the latest violence in an area where Congolese and Ugandan forces have waged a campaign against suspected Islamists.

A spokesman for the regional governor, General Ekenge Sylvain, said in a statement: “The suicide bomber, prevented by security personnel from entering a crowded bar, detonated the bomb at the entrance. of the bar.

He added that six people died in the explosion and 14 were injured, including two local officials.

Security officials said two women and a teenage girl were among the dead.

Sylvain said that insurgents from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a group affiliated with the Islamic State, had activated a “cell cell” in Beni to target citizens, but he did not provide provide evidence related to the explosion.

The ADF did not immediately claim responsibility for the attack.

On Saturday night, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi said in a statement on Twitter that he “strongly condemns” the “disgusting” attack.

Congo and neighboring Uganda launched a military campaign in the area at the end of November against the ADF, with Uganda launching air strikes and artillery strikes against their bases and sending thousands of troops. go over the border to. Officials had previously blamed the group for bombings in the area.

The mayor of Beni, Narcisse Muteba Kashale, earlier told local radio that a bomb had exploded in the city centre. “For safety’s sake, I’m asking people to stay at home,” the mayor said.

A Reuters journalist nearby said he heard an explosion around 7 p.m. local time, shortly after afternoon Catholic mass, near the city’s main road, followed by gunfire.

Police spokesman Nasson Murara said officers fired live bullets to disperse angry crowds trying to prevent investigators from accessing the scene of the explosion. No one was injured, he said.

Pictures shared on social media showed dozens of green chairs scattered across a road, some of which had melted or smoldered. At least four bodies, including that of a small girl, can be seen in the rubble.

Reuters could not immediately verify the authenticity of the images.

A Ugandan general said earlier this month a joint Congo-Uganda operation was planned to target four ADF camps, including two in the Beni area.

Beni was rocked by two explosions in June at a Catholic church and at a busy intersection. No one was killed in either explosion except for the bomber suspect, who was killed by the second explosion.


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