In the middle of worship, a bomb attack left at least 10 dead and 39 injured in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, in North Kivu, the Pentecostal church of Kasindi was hit on Sunday, in full worship, by a bomb attack attributed by the authorities to an armed group affiliated with the Islamic State. We deplore the death of at least ten people. 39 others were injured. The spokesman for the DRC army, Antony Mualushayi, denounces a “terrorist act”. A Kenyan suspect has been arrested.
For his part, the spokesman for the Ugandan military operation in the DRC, Bilal Katamba, mentioned 16 dead and 20 wounded.
"The attackers used a homemade bomb to carry out the attack and we suspect the ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) were behind this attack," he added.
In one tweet, the Congolese Ministry of Communication also spoke of a “bomb attack visibly perpetrated by ADF terrorists”.
"The Government strongly condemns the bomb attack visibly perpetrated by ADF terrorists, this Sunday 15/01/2023, against citizens in full worship in the parish of the 8th Community of Pentecostal Churches of Congo in the city of Kasindi in North Kivu. He reassures that the security services took control of the place after the explosion which caused loss of life and material damage. The injured are evacuated to medical facilities. Investigations are underway to detect the origin of this terrorist act. »
Agence France Presse was unable to independently confirm the death toll.
Denis Mukwege spoke in a press release from the Panzi Foundation, condemning "firmly this attack which can in no way pass as a simple news item and must lead to a strong reaction from the State so that everyone can exercise their faith in peace". He too considers the responsibility of the ADF.
"The modus operandi of this despicable attack carried out using an improvised explosive device suggests that it is an attack by the extremists of the ADF affiliated with the Islamic State who have been terrorizing the inhabitants of the territory of Beni since 2014 According to the UN, at least 370 civilians have been killed by the ADF in the region since April 2022. We cannot continue to accept these human tragedies without reacting. The entire Nation must rise up to demand the return of security in the Provinces in conflict and put an end to the culture of impunity which feeds the repetition of atrocities against the civilian populations. »
The ADF, Muslim rebels of Ugandan origin, are active in the north of North Kivu and in the south of Ituri, another Congolese province. They are among the deadliest of the approximately 120 armed groups in eastern DRC. Denis Mukwege recalls that "according to the UN, at least 370 civilians have been killed by the ADF in the region since April 2022".
These groups seek to control territories for ethnic reasons and/or to extract rich resources from the soil, often encouraged and financed by neighboring countries.
The DRC presidency condemned the attack, as did the UN peacekeeping mission which called it a "cowardly and despicable attack". On Twitter, the French Embassy said it was "horrified".
Horrified by the explosion that took place in a Pentecostal church in #Kasindi au #NorthKivu, and caused many deaths and injuries. We extend our sincere condolences to the families of the victims.
— France in the DRCongo 🇨🇵 🇪🇺 (@AmbaFranceRDC) -
On Twitter, the photos and videos relayed are appalling. The testimonies reported by Agence France Presse are just as important.
A deacon of the evangelical church in Kasindi, Esdras Kambale Mupanya, told AFP that the faithful had gathered for a baptism before the explosion of the bomb. “Several of us died on the spot, others had their feet cut in half,” testified this 42-year-old man.
Another survivor, Jean-Paul Syauswa, said the explosion happened while a blind pastor was commenting on Bible verses. "The bomb threw me at least 100 meters further," he said.
Kiza Kivua, a 50-year-old farmer who lost his brother in the attack, blames the government for neglecting its citizens. “How can such a situation arise when there are plenty of soldiers in Kasindi,” he wonders.
On Sunday evening, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack which, according to it, left “nearly 20” dead, according to the monitoring group of Islamist networks Site.
MC (with AFP)