World Watch Monitor | Sept. 25, 2018
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, dozens are feared killed as armed men believed to be Islamist militants from the ADF group stormed the eastern town of Beni, in the volatile province of North Kivu, on Saturday.
According to local sources, the assailants, in great number, attacked the city by surprise at around 5.30pm from the eastern suburb.
They fired light and heavy weapons, and targeted residential areas, causing panic among the inhabitants.
A military spokesman said the assault, which lasted until 10pm, claimed at least 18 lives – 14 civilians and four soldiers.
But other sources said as many as 40 people may have been killed. Eyewitnesses said some of the victims were killed with machetes, while an undetermined number of others were injured.
According to a local pastor, at least 27 victims have been identified as members of local churches.
“They included motorbike-taxi riders, their clients and a few farmers. They were all from different denominations,” the pastor said.
Attacks attributed to ADF militants are recurrent in North Kivu, where numerous armed groups are active.
ADF, which originated in Uganda and has operated in the region since 1995, has been blamed for hundreds of civilian deaths over the past four years and of trying to uproot Christians from north-eastern DRC through attacks, rape, looting, kidnap and murder.
However, the scale of Saturday’s attack came as a surprise, as the militants managed to reach the centre of the city. Previously, ADF’s attacks in Beni had been limited to the suburbs. One survivor said the attackers were dressed up in military uniforms as they entered the Paida neighbourhood, creating confusion among locals who thought they were government forces coming to protect them.