The United States Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo Mike Hammer visited Beni on Thursday in light of the most recent attack believed to be by the Allied Democratic Forces armed group that claimed the lives of at least nine civilians — including women.
Some of the victims were killed in their homes while others were taken to the centre of the neighbourhood before being shot and beaten with machetes or pieces of concrete, a military spokesperson said.
The attack follows explosions on Sunday that hit a Catholic church and a market in Beni. Four people were injured in the blasts, claimed by a regional offshoot of the Islamic State.
Local residents have since taken to the streets in protest of the violence — carrying the body of one of the victims as they marched to the town hall to demand that the police and military provide better protection to the civilian population.
Mike Hammer outlined his èerspective on the situation.
“It’s a very complicated situation. There is no easy solution. It will be an issue that will take some time (to solve), but if the efforts are there, with good coordination and all together – as I said – the Congolese government, the security and intelligence authorities with Monusco (the UN Mission in the DRC), with the support of other countries and the international community, it is possible to improve the situation and that’s what we want.”
Hammer also added that the United States pledges to stand in solidarity with the residents of Beni and would assist in tracking down those behind the attacks in the region which has been marked by conflict among armed groups vying for control of its natural resources for over a quarter of a century,
“We will begin intelligence cooperation between the Congolese army and the U.S.,” he said. He said the U.S. will support training for the Congolese army and police forces.
The ADF, which traces its origins to nearby Uganda, has mounted an escalating number of attacks in and around Beni in the last several years even as the community was struck by an Ebola epidemic.