People in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s city of Beni today Monday woke up to a curfew after three bombs rocked the east of the country, with authorities warning they had reports more attacks were being planned.
Yesterday morning, a makeshift bomb went off in a Catholic church in the city, injuring two women, followed just hours later by a suicide bombing outside a bar.
A day earlier, a bomb exploded next to a petrol station on the outskirts of Beni without causing any damage.
Beni is in the North Kivu province, one of two regions President Felix Tshisekedi placed under a “state of siege” on May 6 in a bid to clamp down on rebel violence in the region.
“I don’t want to see anyone in the street,” Beni Mayor Narcisse Muteba said late yesterday as he announced the curfew.
“Everyone should go inside because we have information that something else is being planned.”
The church attack yesterday marked the first time a Catholic building has been targeted in the area, which has been beset by rising violence from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group, which has carried out a string of massacres in the last 18 months.
“I want to see only police and soldiers in the streets,”Mr Muteba, who is also a police colonel, said as he announced the curfew.
The attack at the church took place just an hour before a children’s confirmation ceremony was due to be held.
Traces of blood could be seen at the church entrance in the aftermath of the explosion, while shards of glass were scattered inside and the sound equipment destroyed.
“I had just entered the church, I hadn’t even managed to sit down, I heard ‘boom’ … blood started flowing from my mouth,” Antoinette Kavira, one of the injured women, told the AFP news agency from her hospital bed.
“I lost four teeth and my arms were injured.”
The second victim was still in shock after being wounded in the leg.
Just hours later, the suicide bomb attack happened outside a bar.
The ADF is the deadliest of an estimated 122 armed groups that roam the mineral-rich east of the DRC, many of them a legacy of two regional wars that ran from 1996 to 2003.
It is historically a Ugandan group that has holed up in the eastern DRC since 1995. In March, the United States said the group was linked to ISIL (ISIS).