Suicide bombing in Congo: at least five dead in Beni
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The attack marks the latest violence in an area where Congolese and Ugandan forces have launched a campaign against suspected Islamists.
“The suicide bomber, prevented by security agents from entering a crowded bar, activated the bomb at the entrance of the bar,” the spokesman for the regional governor, General Ekenge Sylvain, said in a statement.
Six people died in the blast and 14 were injured, including two local officials, he added.
Sylvain said insurgents from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a group aligned with the Islamic State, had activated a “sleeper cell” in Beni to target citizens, but he provided no evidence linking them to the Islamic State. explosion.
The ADF did not immediately claim responsibility for the attack.
Congo and neighboring Uganda launched a military campaign in the region in late November against the ADF, with Uganda mounting airstrikes and artillery strikes against their bases and sending thousands of troops across the border. Officials previously blamed the group for the bombings in the area.
The mayor of Beni, Narcisse Muteba Kashale, previously told local radio that a bomb had exploded in the city center. “For safety, I ask the population to stay at home,” said the mayor.
A nearby Reuters reporter said he heard an explosion around 7 p.m. local time just after afternoon Catholic mass near the town’s main road, followed by gunfire.
Police spokesman Nasson Murara said officers fired live ammunition to disperse an angry crowd trying to prevent investigators from accessing the scene of the blast. No one was injured, he said.
Images shared on social media showed dozens of green chairs scattered across a road, some melted or smoking. At least four bodies, including that of a little girl, could be seen among the wreckage.
Reuters could not immediately verify the authenticity of the images.
The joint Congolese and Ugandan campaign, launched on November 30, had planned to target four ADF camps, including two in the Beni region, a Ugandan general said earlier this month.
Beni was rocked by two explosions in June at a Catholic church and at a busy intersection. No one was killed in either blast except for the suspected suicide bomber, who was killed by the second blast.
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