8 dead in suicide bomb attack in Congo on Christmas

Beni, Dec 26 (IANS) At least eight people have died in a suicide bomber explosion late on Saturday, in the middle of the Christmas celebration, in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo), said hospital sources on Sunday morning.

In a provisional assessment provided on Saturday night by General Ekenge Sylvain, spokesman for the governor of the North Kivu province, at least six people, including the suicide bomber, were killed and 13 others wounded in this “terrorist attack” in the city of Beni.

According to the update delivered this Sunday morning by the medical director of the General Hospital of Beni, two other people died from the serious injuries caused by the explosion, adding that 14 other people were wounded, some in serious condition, Xinhua news agency reported.

The explosion of the bomb took place at around 20.00 local time, at the entrance of a busy bar. The suicide bomber, stopped by the guards from entering the bar crowded with customers, activated the bomb at the entrance of another bar next door, according to Sylvain Ekenge.

All night from Saturday to Sunday, the security services have been patrolling the city and the surroundings of the site of the explosion in search of clues. According to the local security sources, several pieces of the explosive device were collected at the scene of the incident by deminers supported by the UN’s mission in DR Congo (MONUSCO).

In a statement made late Saturday on the national TV channel (RTNC), Congolese government spokesman Patrick Muyaya condemned the suicide bombing that caused loss of life.

President Felix Tshisekedi said he had learned with dismay the news of the terrorist attack that hit the city of Beni on Christmas Day and he strongly condemned this heinous act.

While paying tribute to the victims and offering his condolences to the bereaved families, the president promised that these crimes would not go unpunished and that their perpetrators would be hunted down and annihilated.

The territory of Beni, which has been under siege since early May as part of the exceptional measures taken on two provinces, also including Ituri, is constantly under attack by rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which have been active in this part of the country for decades.

Since November 30, the Uganda People’s Defence Forces, in collaboration with the Congolese army, has officially launched air and artillery operations against several ADF rebel positions in northeastern DR Congo.

–IANS

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