At least six people have reportedly died after a suicide bomber detonated a bomb at a restaurant in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s eastern city of Beni.
Authorities have accused the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) of Saturday’s attack. The militia is one of the deadliest armed groups in the region and is claimed by the ISIL (ISIS) group as its central Africa arm.
“The suicide bomber, prevented by security guards from entering a crowded bar, activated the bomb at the entrance of the bar,” the regional governor’s spokesman, General Ekenge Sylvain, said in a statement.
Six people died in the blast, and 14 were injured, including two local officials, he added.
The ADF did not immediately claim responsibility for the attack.
An eyewitness told reporters that two children were among the dead, as well as two local officials.
More than 30 people were celebrating Christmas there when the bomb went off, two witnesses told newsmen
Beni’s mayor, Narcisse Muteba Kashale, earlier told local radio that a bomb had exploded in the city centre. “For safety, I’m asking the population to stay home,” the mayor said.
Kashale, who is also a police colonel, said at least two of the victims were children. Wounded survivors were taken to the local hospital, he said.
Police spokesperson Nasson Murara said that officers fired live rounds to disperse an angry crowd that attempted to bar investigators from accessing the scene of the explosion. No one was injured, he said.
Beni, near the DRC’s eastern border with Uganda, has been the site of regular clashes between the Congolese army and the ADF.