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Beni (DR Congo) (AFP) – A suicide bomber killed at least five people on Saturday in a crowded nightlife venue in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo town of Beni, local officials reported.
“The suicide bomber, prevented by security from accessing the bar, crowded with customers, activated the bomb at the entrance,” said a statement from military officials who run the province of North Kivu.
Thirteen other people were being treated for their injuries in hospitals, the statement added, calling the death toll provisional. The statement blamed the attack on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the deadliest militia active in the region.
Shortly after the explosion, Narcisse Muteba, the colonel who ran the city during the state of emergency in the east of the country, called on residents to return to their homes for their own safety.
Shortly after the attack, an AFP correspondent saw the remains of three bodies at the site of the explosion, the In Box restaurant. The remains of tables, chairs, bottles and glasses were scattered around the site of the explosion.
A source at the town hall told AFP that two children were among the dead, as well as two local officials.
More than thirty people were celebrating Christmas there when the bomb exploded, two witnesses told AFP.
“I was sitting there,” local radio presenter Nicolas Ekila told AFP. “There was a motorbike parked there. Suddenly the motorbike took off, then there was a deafening noise.”
A police vehicle took the injured to a nearby medical center, which was immediately cordoned off.
Operations against ADF
On June 27 in Beni, the explosion of a homemade bomb in a Catholic church injured two women, the same day a man died when the bomb he was carrying exploded.
The day before, another device had exploded near a gas station without causing damage. The authorities blamed the attacks on the ADF.
Beni, in Ituri province, on the DRC’s eastern border with Uganda, has been the scene of regular clashes between the army and the ADF.
Ituri and the neighboring province of North Kivu have been under “state of siege” since May, an emergency measure which the army has taken effective control of but which has so far failed to stop the attacks armed militias.
On November 30, the DRC and Uganda launched a joint operation against the ADF in the east of the country in an attempt to quell bloody attacks by the ADF. Uganda has also blamed the group for a series of attacks on its territory.
The ADF was historically a Ugandan rebel coalition whose largest group included Muslims opposed to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
But it established itself in eastern DRC in 1995, becoming the deadliest of dozens of illegal forces in the troubled region.
He has been blamed for the killings of thousands of civilians over the past decade in the DRC, as well as the bombings in the Ugandan capital Kampala.
The Islamic State group presents the ADF as its regional arm – the Islamic State of Central Africa Province, or ISCAP.
On March 11, the United States placed the ADF on its list of “terrorist groups” affiliated with ISIS jihadists.
© 2021 AFP