A fresh attack – on 9 February – in the volatile province of North Kivu, in eastern DRC, has claimed five lives and left several people injured. An undetermined number of others are also missing.
According to French news site RFI, the attack took place at about 7pm, and targeted the town of Njite-Mavivi, near Beni Airport.
The Governor of North Kivu, Julien Paluku, attributed the attack to the radical Islamic group Muslim Defense International (MDI), formerly known as the Allied Democratic Forces.
A local civil-society leader in Beni, Pastor Gilbert Kambale, said the attack has created a climate of insecurity among the inhabitants of Beni.
He said many have left the affected area and sought refuge elsewhere in the city of Beni.
Eastern DRC had enjoyed a period of relative calm until violence resumed in September and October last year, as World Watch Monitor reported.
Last month a Catholic priest was briefly kidnapped by armed men before being released. Fr. Robert Masinda from the parish of Bingo, was kidnapped on Monday 22 January, along with five others, all of whom were eventually released.
The kidnapping of Fr. Masinda took place amidst a tense political and social atmosphere in the country, as demonstrations organised by the Catholic laity on New Year’s Eve were repressed by security forces.
The demonstrators want to exert pressure on President Joseph Kabila, whose mandate expired on 31 December 2016, to respect the Catholic Church-mediated political agreement signed in late 2016.
The agreement called for presidential elections by the end of 2017 and measures to ease political tensions.
Some have accused the government of masterminding the violence, notably in the east of the country and the central province of Kasai, with the aim of creating a climate of instability that could serve as a pretext for President Kabila to stay in power.