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A suicide bomber kills at least five people at an east Congo restaurant

A suicide bomber kills at least five people at an east Congo restaurant. 

Officials said that a suicide bomber attacked a Beni restaurant on Saturday, killing five people.

This attack is the latest violence in a region that has seen Congolese and Ugandan forces launch a campaign against Islamists.

General Ekenge Sylvain (the regional governor’s spokesperson) said that the suicide bomber was prevented from entering a bar by security guards and activated the bomb at its entrance.

He said that six people were killed and fourteen others were hurt in the explosion, including two local officials.

Sylvain claimed that insurgents belonging to the Allied Democratic Forces, a group aligned to Islamic State, had set up a “sleeper” cell in Beni to target citizens. However, he didn’t provide any evidence linking them to the explosion.

At the end of November, Congo and Uganda launched a military operation in the region against the ADF. Officials previously blamed the group for the bombings of the area.

Narcisse Muteba Kazhale, Beni’s mayor, had earlier stated that a bomb had been set off in the city center. The mayor said, “For safety, we’re asking the population to stay home.”

A Reuters journalist near the scene said he heard a blast around 7 p.m. Just after the afternoon Catholic Mass, near the city’s main road. Then, he heard gunshots.

Nasson Murata, a police spokesperson, stated that officers used live rounds to disperse a crowd of angry people who tried to block investigators from reaching the scene. He said that no one was hurt.

Photos shared via social media showed many green chairs scattered along a roadside, some melting or smoldering. There were at least four bodies among the wreckage, including one small girl.

Reuters could not verify the authenticity of these images immediately.

However, according to a Ugandan general, a joint Congolese-Ugandan campaign was launched on Nov. 30 and aimed to target four ADF camps, two of which were in the Beni region.

Two explosions at a Catholic Church and a busy intersection rocked Beni in June. The second explosion killed the suspect bomber. No one else was hurt in either blast.

 

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