Reportedly, most losses occurred after the government launched Operation Sukola 1, an effort to dislodge Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) forces from the area.
But the operation has come at great cost to the mostly Christian population with at least 10 attacks since the beginning of the month. The ADF—one of several extremist groups supporting Islamization—is known to carry out atrocities, such as murder (including children), rape, abduction of women and children and subsequent, slavery and/or indoctrination.
Pastor Gilbert Kambale, president of the Beni city civil society organization, has called on Christians in North Kivu and elsewhere to keep praying and looking up to God for deliverance for Beni and the DRC.
“Even as the night is long, day will surely dawn,” Pastor Gilbert remarked.
To help you understand what the last month has been like for our brothers and sisters in this area of Central Africa, below we share a rundown of the attacks that started Nov. 5 and continued over the next three weeks.
- Nov 5: At about 6 a.m., suspected ADF militants ambushed civilians around the village of Kokola, killing at least 10people, three of them Christians, and wounding four. A 16-year-old girl is still missing.
- Nov 10: Four Christians were killed in an attack in the town of Eringeti. Sources said the assailants quietly entered the town, killed their victims and left with no one hearing any gunshots
- Nov 11: At least three people were killed in the villages of Mayimoya and Bambuka Kisiki; and at least two others were reported missing. Three of the victims were Christians.
- Nov 14: Six people (four women, one man and a child), all members of the same family, were killed in the city of Oicha near the city of Mabasele. Several others sustained injuries. Reportedly, this was the third attack that week. Previously, militants tried to take the Oicha General Hospital. According to a church leader, the population of Mabasele fled for the umpteenth time but returned the next day, only to suffer another attack.
- Nov 15: Between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m., ADF fighters attacked Mabasele, killing six women, three of them Christians who had gone to church for prayers and were killed in Kikanda around 11p.m. as they made their way home. Threeothers were killed before them. Later, suspected ADF fighters attacked a vehicle around Kokola. Five people were killed, including two Christian women and three men.
- Nov 16: Some 15 people were killed in the area of Palmba, Mbau. Of the 15, eight of them (five women, two men and a 6-year-old child) were Christians. Much of Mbau’s population fled for the umpteenth time to Beni.
- Nov 17: At about 10 p.m., suspected ADF fighters stormed the Pakanza neighborhood of Oicha area and stayed until about 2 a.m., killing six people (including three women, one man and two children). At least four others sustained injuries.
- Nov 19: In a three-hour attack, from 4-7 p.m., some 14 people died in a suspected ADF attack in the Mavete area near central Oicha city. By the end of the day, the death toll had risen to seven and the following day seven more people were found a few miles away. They first killed three believers (two women and one man) before looting medicine from a health center of a local church. They also set part of the building on fire. Most of Mavete’s population has fled to Beni, while a few went to the city of Ndalya.
- Nov 20: Suspected ADF fighters stormed the Boikene district of Beni at about 2 a.m. and killed 15 people, all Christians. Ten people have been reported missing.
Years of bloodshed
The DRC lies in central Africa and is one of the largest countries on the continent. With 80 million hectares of arable land and over 1,100 minerals and precious metals available, it is also extraordinarily rich. Its wealth is one of the main reasons that violence and turmoil make up so much of its history.
Over the past few years, reports have surfaced about persistent violence against the mostly Christian population in the northeast of the DRC. The security situation is very complex because of the many different groups involved, a few of which support an Islamic expansionist agenda.
During a visit last year, Open Doors workers learned the situation has not improved at all and that the atrocities committed against our brothers and sisters are causing displacement, poverty, desperation and very many health and psychological problems. The violence has also negatively impacted church life.