On Monday, the city of Beni was placed under curfew after three bombs exploded in the conflict-torn east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, with police warning that additional assaults were planned.
Beni Mayor Narcisse Muteba declared the curfew late Sunday, saying, “I don’t want to see anyone in the street.” “We have information that something else is being planned, so everyone should go inside.”
A improvised bomb exploded in a Catholic church in the city on Sunday morning, injuring two people, and was quickly followed by a suicide explosion outside a pub.
A bomb burst near a petrol station on the outskirts of Beni the day before, inflicting no damage.
Beni is in the North Kivu province, one of two in the country that President Felix Tshisekedi declared a “state of siege” on on May 6 in order to stop militia violence.
The church attack was the first in the area, which has been plagued by escalating violence by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia, which has carried out a number of massacres in the last 18 months.
As he announced the curfew, Mayor Muteba, who is also a police colonel, remarked, “I want to see only police and military in the streets.”
‘I’m going after a big crowd.’
Beni’s largest religion is Catholicism, and the attack on the church occurred barely an hour before a children’s confirmation ceremony.
Laurent Sondirya, the vicar general of Beni, said two women were hurt in the blast.
According to him, that they were aiming for a large crowd because the ritual would bring together youngsters, their parents, and the faithful.
The aftermath of the explosion left traces of blood at the church’s entryway, while pieces of glass were spread inside and the sound equipment was destroyed.
“I had just walked into the chapel and hadn’t even sat down when I heard a ‘Boom’… My mouth began to swell with blood, “Antoinette Kavira, one of the injured women, told AFP from her hospital bed.
“I lost four teeth and had arm injuries,” she explained.
After being shot in the leg, the second victim was still in shock.
A suicide bomber detonated a device outside a bar just hours later.
Muteba informed reporters that the pub was around 100 meters (yards) from a mosque, and that the bomber “killed on the spot.”
The ADF is the deadliest of an estimated 122 armed militias roaming the DRC’s mineral-rich east, many of which are the result of two regional battles that lasted from 1996 to 2003.
It is a Ugandan Islamist group that has been hiding in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since 1995.
The US claimed in March that the group was affiliated to the so-called Islamic State (IS).
According to the Catholic episcopate, the gang is accused of killing 6,000 people since 2013.
According to the Kivu Security Tracker, around 1,200 civilians have been killed in the Beni area alone since 2017.
The ADF was accused of kidnapping three priests from Beni in 2014, although no one has claimed responsibility for the abduction.
In May of this year, two imams in Beni who had spoken out against ADF brutality were shot dead, one inside the city’s mosque and the other after evening prayers.