Checkpoints, blockades and soldiers patrolling. This is how Beni, a city in the northeastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), woke up unsettled after two bomb blasts hit the city on Sunday, leaving one death and multiple injuries.
After a night under curfew, schools will be shut down and markets remained closed for at least the next 48 hours, ordered Monday morning the city’s mayor and police chief Muteba Kashale, banning gatherings of all form on the whole territory.
“Schools, churches, markets will remain closed for 48 hours. We are on the ground, we have leads, and we are working on them,” said Kashale. Checkpoints were set up and pedestrians are asked to show their ID card as part of his orders to secure the city.
On Sunday morning, a homemade bomb exploded in a local church, injuring at least two people and causing considerable damage.”I walked into the church, I sat down. A little later, I heard an explosion, I became dizzy, and I forced myself out of the church.
At the exit, I felt pain until I noticed the loss of my four teeth”, recalled Kavira Antoinette, witness of the blast, who is now being treated in the hospital.
The experts of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC that rushed to the site after the explosion said it was a homemade bomb targeting Christians coming for the Sunday worship. But the tragedy went on, as a suicide bomber blew himself up later that night on the outskirts of the city, killing himself and injuring at least two others, according to the police.
“We were having a drink till we heard an explosion a few meters away. All of a sudden, one of us said that his foot was sore. We soon found out that he was really hurt.
It was till this morning (Monday) that we found that one person died. The blood is still there”, said Wiseseke Angalakato Tresor, who was near the explosion.
A curfew was immediately declared in the city following the tragedies. Checkpoints went into operation for close control of the movement of people and goods to “track down the enemies of the people,” according to DRC’s government.
On Monday morning, DRC’s Armed Forces (FARDC) identified the kamikaze as an active member of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a militia group that has been active in the area for decades, claiming that bomber is also in charge of recruitment.
The army said they had seized some military items at the site of the suicide bomber’s explosion that would trace more suspects responsible for the tragedy.On the same night on Sunday, at least 14 people were killed during a fresh incursion by the ADF rebels in Manzobe of the neighbouring Ituri province. The rebels also burned down a few houses during the attack.
Last month, at least two Muslim imams were shot dead in two mosques in the middle of worship in the same city of Beni by unknown people, while hundreds of people have recently been killed in Beni territory by ADF rebels.Since the beginning of this year, members of the ADF, originated in Uganda, have increased their attacks in North Kivu and Ituri.
Faced with growing insecurities in the region, the DRC President Felix Tshisekedi declared a state of siege in the two provinces in April.