A suicide bombing attack in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo town of Beni on Saturday killed at least three.
Narcisse Muteba, the colonel who ran the city during the state of emergency in the east of the country, said the bomb exploded in the city center. He called on residents to return home for their own safety.
Although Muteba did not take stock of the explosion, an Agence France-Presse (AFP) correspondent saw the remains of three bodies.
“Loss of life has been reported. The security services have already been deployed and the first measures have been taken,” Congolese government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said on Twitter, without specifying the number of dead. He said the explosion in the town of Beni was caused by a suicide bomber.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Congo and neighboring Uganda launched a military campaign in the region in late November against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a group aligned with the terrorist group Daesh. Officials previously blamed the group for the bombings in the area.
The mayor of Beni, Narcisse Muteba Kashale, told local radio earlier that a bomb had exploded in the city center. “For safety, I ask the population to stay at home,” said the mayor.
A nearby Reuters reporter said he heard an explosion around 7 p.m., just after afternoon Catholic mass, near the town’s main road, followed by gunfire.
Images shared on social media showed dozens of green chairs scattered across a road, some melted or smoking. Three bodies could be seen among the wreckage. Reuters could not immediately verify the authenticity of the images.
The joint Congolese and Ugandan campaign, launched on November 30, had planned to target four ADF camps, including two in the Beni region, a Ugandan general said earlier this month.
Beni was rocked by two explosions in June at a Catholic church and at a busy intersection. No one was killed in either blast except for the suspected suicide bomber, who was killed by the second blast.
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