Islamic extremists have claimed responsibility for the bombing of a church in eastern Congo as authorities said on Monday the death toll from Sunday’s attack had risen to at least 14.
The Islamic State group and its outlet Aamaq released statements saying its militants placed an explosive device inside the Kasindi Pentecostal Church and detonated it while people were praying.
“Let the Congolese forces know that their continued attacks on the mujahideen will only bring them more failures and casualties,” the group said in its statement.
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Extremists claimed the bomb killed 20 Christians. Congolese authorities on Monday put the death toll at 14 dead and at least 63 injured.
The injured were evacuated to Beni General Hospital by the UN peacekeeping mission known as MONUSCO, authorities said.
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Violence has ravaged eastern Congo for decades as more than 120 armed groups and vigilante militias fight for land and power. Nearly 6 million people are internally displaced and hundreds of thousands face extreme food insecurity, UN says
Fighters from the Allied Democratic Forces, a rebel organization suspected of having links with the Islamic State group, carried out several attacks in Kasindi, located on the border with Uganda.
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Ugandan army troops deployed in eastern Congo to try to stem the violence, but attacks increased and spread. ADF attacks since April have killed at least 370 civilians and kidnapped several hundred more, according to a United Nations report last month.