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Daesh Kills 10 at DR Congo Church Bomb Attack

Daesh Kills 10 at DR Congo Church Bomb Attack
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By Staff, Agencies

At least 10 people were killed and 39 wounded Sunday in a bomb attack on a church in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo claimed by the Wahhabi Daesh [Arabic acronym for “ISIS” / “ISIL”] militants.

Congolese military spokesman Antony Mualushayi said the "terrorist act" happened in a Pentecostal church in North Kivu province's Kasindi, a town on the border with Uganda.

The explosion killed at least 10 people and wounded 39, he added, revising up an initial death toll of five. Both tolls were provisional, the spokesman said.

But the spokesman for Uganda's military operation in the DRC, Bilal Katamba, said on Sunday evening that 16 people had been killed in the blast, and 20 wounded.

"The attackers used an IED to carry out the attack and we suspect ADF is behind the attack," he added.

The DRC's communications ministry said on social media that the attack was apparently carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces [ADF] – which Daesh claims as its affiliate in central Africa.

The ADF is one of the deadliest of the more than 120 armed groups in eastern DRC, many of them the legacy of regional wars that flared at the turn of the century in the vast impoverished nation.

It has been accused of slaughtering thousands of Congolese civilians and carrying out bomb attacks in Uganda. ADF operatives have also planted bombs in towns in North Kivu in the past.

On Sunday evening, the Wahhabi Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack and said "nearly 20" people had been killed, according to the specialized monitoring group Site intelligence group.

Army spokesman Mualushayi said a Kenyan suspect was arrested after the attack.

The DRC's presidency condemned the bombing, as did the United Nations peacekeeping mission which described it as a "cowardly and despicable attack".

In 2021, the United States labelled the ADF a "foreign terrorist organization" with links to the Wahhabi Daesh. The militia is active mainly in North Kivu and neighboring Ituri province.

The same year, a joint Congolese-Ugandan military operation began targeting the ADF inside the DRC. But the attacks have continued.

A report by independent experts for the UN Security Council, released in December, said the ADF had "continued its geographic expansion" despite the Congolese-Ugandan military operation, killing at least 370 civilians since April 2022.

It also warned that the ADF was changing tactics, opting for "more visible and more lethal" bomb attacks in urban areas.

In April last year, for example, a woman detonated a suicide vest in a bar in North Kivu's capital Goma, according to the independent UN experts. Six people died in the attack and 16 more were wounded.

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi placed North Kivu and Ituri under a so-called state of siege in 2021 in a bid to stem the violence, with military officials replacing civilian administrators.

The measure has largely failed to stop attacks against civilians.