Suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels detonated a homemade improvised explosive device, killing at least 17 and injuring dozens more at a church in Kasindi, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on the morning of 15 January. Hundreds of Christians were gathered for prayer and baptism when the blast went off at 11am.
One of the first responders, a pastor of a nearby church, reported, “The church next door has been attacked,” he said. “We heard a loud blast while in the middle of our service and dashed out to see what was going on.
The area was chaotic since the believers were screaming, and smoke filled the whole place. We stopped what we were doing and came here to help. We knew it was an attack, so we carefully approached the scene.”
He continued, “Limbs and other body parts are scattered everywhere as more dead bodies are being retrieved from the rubble. Many people have been injured, and they are being evacuated. We are not able to ascertain how this attack happened or how many Christians have been killed, but I can confirm that this is a gruesome terrorist attack.”
Dozens of injured survivors were admitted to different hospitals in Kasindi.
Over the years, Kasindi, a town near the Uganda border in the Eastern region of Nord Kivu, has never been hit by insecurity posed by the Congolese Islamic rebels, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), due to the highest presence of security officers.
The Community of Pentecostal Churches in Central Africa (CEPAC) was gathering for the New Year’s prayer meeting and baptism of 60 new converts.
“We are in deep shock and confusion,” said one survivor. “We were on our third and last day of the New Year’s prayers and service to witness the baptism of sixty new Christians from our different branches. The church was filled to capacity, and others were seated outside. I survived because I was sitting on the other side of the congregation, right opposite the side where the bomb exploded. It threw the people up and sideways and killed about ten people on the spot.”
The Anglican archdeacon and the leader of the pastor’s fellowship in Kasindi, Reverend Kasereka, consoled the victims and families that lost dear ones, urging Christians in Kasindi to remain calm and vigilant as the government fights the terror meted by the rebels that hate God and Christianity.
He said, “This has happened when we least expected it, but it is a reminder that the enemy lives within us and we need to remain in prayer and hold unwaveringly to the hope we have in Christ.”