The Islamic State (IS) group has claimed its first suicide attack in
the Democratic Republic of Congo, a jihadist monitoring site said.
IS claimed responsibility for a suicide blast in Beni in North Kivu province by a man named as “Abu Khadijah” who targeted “Christian disbelievers at a liquor bar”, according to the US-based SITE intelligence Group, which monitors extremist groups.
IS also claimed responsibility for an explosion at a church in the same town on Sunday, as well as three other attacks on security forces in Ituri province to the north, SITE said late Tuesday.
Two women in the church were injured.
The violence in Beni was blamed by Congolese authorities on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia, whose leader Musa Baluku has pledged allegiance to IS.
Experts are still unsure about the extent of links between the ADF, an Islamist group originally from Uganda, and IS, which has lost most of its territory in the Middle East but is expanding in Africa.
Authorities in Beni issued a curfew on Sunday and closed
schools, markets and churches for 48 hours after three blasts over the
weekend, including the bar and church attacks, as well as another near a
petrol station on the outskirts of the town.
The ADF is the deadliest of an estimated 122 armed militias that roam the mineral-rich east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, many of them a legacy of two regional wars that ran from 1996 to 2003.
It is accused of having killed 6,000 people since 2013, according to the Catholic episcopate.
The Kivu Security Tracker (KST) monitor says it has killed more than 1,200 civilians in the Beni area alone since 2017.