DRC: Claimed by Islamic State an attack on a church kills at least 10

DRC: Claimed by Islamic State an attack on a church kills at least 10

In North Kivu, violence has tragically struck again. At least 10 people were killed and 39 injured in a bomb attack on a church in north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Sunday, which authorities attribute to an armed group affiliated with Islamic State. On Sunday evening, the Islamic State also claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed “almost 20” according to the monitoring group of the Islamist network Site.

This “purely terrorist act” took place in a Pentecostal church in Kasindi, a town bordering Uganda in North Kivu province, said DRC army spokesman Antony Mualushayi. He also announced the arrest of a suspect of Kenyan nationality, adding that an investigation was ongoing. The spokesman for the Ugandan military operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bilal Katamba, spoke of 16 dead and 20 injured.

The French embassy ‘appalled’

The DRC presidency condemned the attack, as did the UN peacekeeping mission, with the French embassy saying “appalled” on Twitter. On the same social network, the Congolese Ministry of Communications spoke of a “bomb attack visibly perpetrated by ADF terrorists”, the Allied Democratic Forces.

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The ADF, Muslim rebels of Ugandan origin, are active in northern North Kivu and southern Ituri, another Congolese province. They are among the deadliest of around 120 armed groups in eastern DRC, many of which are the legacy of regional conflicts that erupted at the turn of the 21st century. These groups attempt to control areas on ethnic grounds and/or deprive the soil of rich resources, often encouraged and funded by neighboring countries.

Regions under “state of siege” since May 2021

The ADF is accused of massacring thousands of Congolese civilians and carrying out bombings in Uganda. In 2021, the United States included the ADF on its list of “foreign terrorist organizations” linked to the “Islamic State” group. In the same year, a joint Congolese-Uganda military operation against the ADF began on Congolese territory. But the attacks continued.

Since May 2021, North Kivu and Ituri have been placed under a “state of siege” by Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi to stop the violence, with military officials replacing civilian administration officials. But even this extraordinary measure has largely failed to contain the attacks. At least sixty civilians have been killed in Ituri in the past week.