Schools, churches and markets remained closed on Monday in Beni, in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the aftermath of the bomb attacks and the death of a “suicide bomber” identified by the authorities as a member of the Democratic Forces allies (ADF).
This bloodthirsty armed group is affiliated with the jihadists of the Islamic State, according to the United States.
In the morning, motorcycle taxis and a few rare private cars circulated timidly on the streets of Beni while the doors of shops, boutiques, markets and restaurants remained closed until early afternoon, noted an AFP correspondent.
Most bank counters remained closed, and the few customers who were able to access them were subject to meticulous control by police and guards.
The schoolchildren in blue and white uniforms usually ubiquitous did not go out during the day, in accordance with orders given by the authorities.
“Schools, churches, markets remain closed for 48 hours,” Colonel Narcisse Muteba, mayor of Beni and police officer, ordered in a statement to the media in the morning.
“We walk with fear in our stomachs on the streets of Beni. Wherever we are, we are in danger of death. With these explosions and people carrying bombs, leaving your house is taking risks,” said himself. carried away Jeannine Kashauri, nurse in a medical center in Beni.
– Kamikaze identified –
The authorities have increased the number of checkpoints on access to the city of Beni, demanding to verify identity documents.
A few rare shops and restaurants ended up opening in the afternoon, without knowing the usual influx of customers.
Sunday evening, the bearer of a bomb was killed in the explosion of his device near a bar and not far from a mosque. Earlier in the day, a bomb explosion in a Catholic church injured two women. A similar device had exploded Saturday evening, not far from a gas station, in the outskirts of the city, without causing damage.
The head of the United Nations Mission in Congo (Monusco) Bintou Keïta “strongly condemns these cowardly and cruel attacks which aim to sow terror and confusion among the civilian population”, in a statement Monday.
The army indicated that “the suicide bomber who blew himself up (Sunday evening) is a subject of Ugandan origin, answering to the name of Ngudi Abdallah, very active alongside his leader the sinister terrorist Amigo”, a commander of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), in a statement.
“The suicide bomber was identified by his Ugandan identity card found in his pockets. ADF prisoners corroborated information on his identity,” Lieutenant Antonny Mualushayi, army spokesman in Beni, told AFP. .
– Muslim rebels –
The army asked “the population of Beni to denounce any suspicious movement, to dissociate themselves from the armed groups and to line up behind the armed forces”.
Beni and its surroundings have been the target since 2013 of the ADF group, responsible for a series of massacres which left at least 6,000 dead, according to a count by the Congolese episcopate. President Félix Tshisekedi declared a state of siege on May 6 in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri.
But this is the first time that an attack has targeted a Catholic church in this way or that the bearer of a bomb has been detonated.
The ADF are Ugandan Muslim rebels who have taken root for more than 25 years in eastern Congolese.
They ceased their operations against neighboring Uganda and are today, by far, the deadliest of the 122 armed groups listed in eastern DRC, according to the Kivu Security Barometer (KST).
On March 11, the United States placed the ADF among the “terrorist groups” affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) group. Many questions have since been raised about the reality and depth of their supposed links with ISIS, which has claimed, since 2019, with supporting images, some of the attacks attributed to the ADF.