Members of the Islamic extremist group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have caused chaos and destruction in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in what some are suggesting is an attempt to create an Islamic ‘caliphate’.
On 26 October suspected militants of the ADF (also known as Muslim Defence International) stormed the Masiani neighbourhood of Beni, a city in north east DRC. Open Doors field contacts say the militants were hiding in the neighbourhood, waiting for night fall to attack the local population, but a soldier collecting wood discovered them and alerted security forces. The rebels immediately went into action and attacked the city. Clashes with the military led to at least six deaths (one soldier and five civilians).
A foreign missionary in the area says, “These are Islamic terrorists on a jihad to carve out a Muslim caliphate under sharia law in eastern Congo.
“Rebels attacked our house and neighbourhood. Three armed [men] jumped the wall and the gate into our compound. One of our dogs barked and they jumped back out.
“When we arrived we could not get into our neighbourhood. It was a real battlefield. Bombs, gun fire and people running. Large calibre shells are everywhere. A thousand or so people fled the area towards Beni. All the children, workers and seven neighbours were crammed into one tiny room - very afraid. They saw these [men] jump over the wall. There was gunfire and bombs and yelling and screaming. All were terrified."
Christian hospital attacked
In the early hours of Friday 27 October, unidentified gunmen also attacked the Nyankunde Evangelical hospital in Beni. It belongs to seven evangelical churches, and is situated on the Beni-Butembo road.
An Open Doors contact told us, “[The attackers] woke up the director of the hospital at about 1 am, and forced him to lie down on the floor. They told him to give them all the money he kept with him. Other medical personnel were also ordered to lie on the floor. His left hand was injured. They also looted money, some medicine and about 40 mobile phones belonging to the patients, carers and nurses."
The attackers seriously beat some of the nurses and patients at the hospital and left just before security forces arrived.
Protests against President Kabila
These incidents have been followed by violent protests against President Kabila. On Monday 30 October, clashes between protesters and the military led to the deaths of at least five persons (although some report as many as 30 deaths).
Members of the LUCHA (‘Lutte pour le changement’, which means ‘Struggle for change’) in Goma took to the streets early on 30 October, chanting ‘Joseph Kabila must go because his mandate has ended’ in French.
DRC has been in a political stalemate since December 2016 when President Kabila's second and last mandate expired without fresh elections held. The San Silvestro Agreement mediated by the Catholic Bishops on 31 December provided for the creation of a national unity government that would have led the DRC to elections by 2017.
However, the national elections body, the CENI has stated elections can only be held 504 days after the end of voter registration. The CENI has been accused by opposition parties of playing the ruling party's game, aimed at maintaining President Kabila in power past his constitutional mandate.
- For Beni and the surrounding region, for peace to return
- For the Lord to comfort all those affected by the recent violence, particularly those who are bereaved and injured
- For healing for those who have suffered physical attack, and that they will recover from the emotional trauma as well as their physical injuries
- For the Lord's protection over missionaries and other Christian facilities in the region, and for strength for them as they assist the suffering population in the midst of insecurity
- That God will work in those who are causing havoc and killings in the DRC, that they will encounter the Lord and turn away from violence
- For the socio-political tension in the country - pray for free and fair elections to take place soon.