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DR Congo church attack kills several people

January 15, 2023

An explosive device was detonated at church in the northeast of the country in what the the military has labelled a "terrorist act." The "Islamic State" terror group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Soldiers from Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) carry out a joint military operation
A joint Ugandan-Congolese military operation targeting Islamists in North Kivu was launched in November 2021Image: Alain Uaykani/Xinhua/picture alliance

At least 10 people were killed and more than three dozen wounded in an Islamist militant bomb on a church in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on Sunday.

Congolese military spokesman Antony Mualushayi said the "terrorist act" occurred at a church in the town of Kasindi, which lies on the border with neighboring Uganda.

Videos posted on social media showed bodies in the pews and blood on the floor. Another showed bloodied victims being carried and treated by bystanders outside the church.

"The security services have already taken control of the place and the injured have been evacuated to local health facilities," Mualushayi said, adding that an investigation was underway.

"I just came back from the scene, where I saw the bodies of children on the ground," said Kasindi resident Alain Kitsa by phone, describing the atmosphere in the town as tense.

Army suspects Islamists behind attack

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which the "Islamic State" (IS) group claims as its affiliate in Central Africa, is active in the area of North Kivu, where the church bomb attack took place. IS later claimed responsibility for the attack. 

"Despite the security measures put in place, the first indications show that it is the ADF which is behind this bomb attack," Mualushay said, without providing evidence to back his claim. 

The ADF has yet to comment on the attack.

This would be the first time the ADF targeted Kasindi since the group stepped up attacks in the region in 2014, local territorial administrator Charles Omeonga said.

The ADF pledged allegiance to Islamic State in 2019 and is accused of killing hundreds of villagers in frequent raids over the past two years.

The DRC and Uganda launched a joint-military operation in 2021 to target the ADF. 

lo/wmr (AFP, Reuters)