Islamic State claims responsibility for several attacks in DRC

File – A group of people in the town of Beni, located in North Kivu province in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). – GAEL CLOAREC / ZUMA PRESS / CONTACTOPHOTO

The Islamic State jihadist group claimed Tuesday responsibility for three attacks carried out in the North Kivu region of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Islamic State has claimed credit for a bloody week of attacks against ‘Christian’ civilians in DRC, with three claims for significant attacks on villages in North Kivu from March 8 to 12,» said Rita Katz, director of SITE Intelligence Group, an organization that specializes in tracking terrorist groups.

According to the terrorist group, these attacks have killed 85 people, while local authorities had reported the death of 27 victims.

Katz added that at least two thirds of the attacks perpetrated by the Islamic State on Congolese territory so far this year have targeted Christians. These attacks are characterized by armed assaults that often involve executions and the burning of infrastructure and property.

At the beginning of March, the United States offered a reward of five million dollars (about 4.7 million euros) for information leading to the arrest of the leader of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) armed group, Musa Baluku, who has sworn allegiance to the Islamic State and is behind hundreds of deaths in recent years in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The ADF, created in Uganda in the 1990s, underwent a split in 2019 after Musa Baluku – sanctioned by the United Nations and the United States – swore allegiance to the jihadist group Islamic State in Central Africa (ISCA), under whose banner he has been acting ever since.

The group, particularly active in eastern DRC, may be attempting to return to operating in Uganda, from where it withdrew in 2003 after a series of military operations drastically reduced its ability to carry out attacks in the country. ISCA has claimed several attacks on Ugandan territory in recent months.