At Least 10 Killed In DR Congo Church Bombing

    At Least 10 Killed In DR Congo Church Bombing
    Last updated Jan 16, 2023
    Image credit: AFP [via The East African]


    • A bomb attack during a church service on Sunday reportedly killed at least 10 people and wounded 39 others in the war-torn eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).[1]
    • Deeming it a "terrorist act," the DRC military said the attack occurred at a Pentecostal church in Kasindi in North Kivu province, which borders neighboring Uganda, and that a Kenyan national had been arrested in connection.[2]
    • The Ugandan military operation in the DRC claimed that 16 people were killed and 20 wounded in the attack caused by an improvised explosive device (IED). Both Kinshasa and Kampala linked the attack to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group.[3]
    • Meanwhile, on Sunday, the Islamic State (IS) group reportedly claimed responsibility, saying that about 20 people were killed in the ADF-led bombing. The DRC's presidency condemned the bombing, which the UN's DRC mission called a "cowardly and despicable attack."[4]
    • The ADF, a predominantly Ugandan rebel militia that reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) in 2019, operates in the eastern DRC's provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, drawing on a solid network of operative cells. Since 2021, it has ramped up its deadly attacks, including suicide bombings.[5]
    • In 2021, the DRC and Uganda launched a joint military operation against the ADF, but in December the same year, the UN Security Council released a report noting that the ADF had maintained its "geographic expansion" and now turned to "more visible" and deadly bombings in urban areas.[6]


    Establishment-critical narrative

    The ADF bombing is a reminder that there are scores of rebel groups operating in eastern DRC beyond the notorious M23 rebels, and emphasizes that there is no simple military solution to the crisis. Since only the symptoms of this extremist violence are being addressed, but not the root causes of insecurity, even the 14K-strong UN peacekeeping mission failed to produce any significant results. Only if the needs and peace initiatives of the local population take center stage in multinational stabilization efforts can there be hope for peace and social cohesion.

    Pro-establishment narrative

    The church bombing is undoubtedly a setback and proves that it's no easy task to decisively weaken a terrorist militia like the ADF, which employs guerrilla tactics in difficult terrain. Still, it seems doubtful that negotiations with the ADF with its Islamization fantasies would be anything more than a waste of time. Moreover, military cooperation between Kinshasa and Kampala has already proven a success for Uganda, which has been able to secure its DRC border. Now, further efforts are needed to eliminate the ADF threat in eastern Congo as well.

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