A homemade bomb exploded inside a Catholic church in Beni, DR Congo’s conflict-torn east, injuring two people just an hour before a children’s confirmation ceremony on Sunday.
The explosion occurred at 6:00 a.m. (0400 GMT) according to the head of police in Beni’s town hall, Narcisse Muteba Kashale, and experts from the UN mission in DR Congo told “us it is a home-made bomb, a bomb that was set up for an ambush.”
Two individuals were hurt in the incident, according to Beni’s vicar general Laurent Sondirya, which occurred before crowds had assembled for the Confirmation service.
He said “mass would not be postponed” because the ceremony would bring together children, their parents, and the devout.
Blood was observed at the church’s door following the explosion, while pieces of glass were spread inside and the sound equipment was destroyed.
It marks the first time a building belonging to the Catholic Church, the city’s largest religion, has been directly targeted in Beni territory, where the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia is accused of killing 6,000 people since 2013, according to the Catholic episcopate.
The ADF is the deadliest of an estimated 120 armed militia groups roaming the mineral-rich east of the huge central African country, many of them are the result of two regional battles that lasted from 1996 to 2003.
It is historically a Ugandan Islamist group that has holed up in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since 1995.
The ADF is accused of killing hundreds of civilians since launching operations from a base in the jungle around Beni in November 2019.
In March, the United States said the ADF was linked to the Islamic State group.