A presumed Islamic terrorist blew himself up in a restaurant on Christmas Day in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), killing five Christians and himself and injuring 14 more.
The suicide bomber carried out his attack at the Ishango bar and restaurant in Beni in eastern DRC near the border with Uganda, at around 7:00pm when some 30 people were settling into Christmas dinner.
Officials believe the attack to have been the work of Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an Islamist terror group allied with the Islamic State that has committed similar atrocities across North Kivu and Ituri provinces and targeted churches earlier this year.
The Anglican Bishop of Beni, Cyrile Kambale, condemned the attack as a “cowardice activity carried out by weak rebels who want to make followers of their faith by force.”
Recently, the attacks have only been in villages where there is insufficient security, the bishop said, “but now it seems like the terrorists are trying to make a statement that they are still present even in cities.”
According to Kambale, the terrorists targeted that place “because they knew that many people would gather in the evening to continue celebrating Christmas,” adding that “we shall not let fear diminish the joy of Christ in this season, and we shall stand in prayer with the families of those killed today.”
A Reuters reporter in the area said he heard the explosion occur around 7:00 pm, just after the afternoon Catholic Mass let out near the city’s main road, followed by gunshots.
Officers on the scene fired their guns in the air to disperse a crowd that sought to bar investigators from accessing the scene of the explosion, police spokesman Nasson Murara said.
“The government condemns the explosion, on this Christmas evening, of a bomb in a restaurant in Beni, the work of a suicide bomber. The security services are deployed,” said regional governor spokesman, General Ekenge Sylvain, in a statement
“The suicide bomber, prevented by security guards from entering a crowded bar, activated the bomb at the entrance of the bar,” the statement said.