US News DRC: EI claims an attack on Beni prison, hundreds of fugitives
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Claimed by the Islamic State organization, an attack on Tuesday on a prison in Beni, in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, led to the escape of several hundred detainees in a region traumatized by massacres of civilians for six years.
"Kangbayi prison was attacked by ADF (Allied Democratic Forces, an armed group)," Modeste Muhindo Bwakanamaha, acting mayor of Beni, told AFP. "Only a hundred inmates did not leave the prison out of the 1,455 who were there."
"Two prisoners (were) killed by bullets and out of 1,300 detainees, a large number vanished into the wild" after this attack led "by ADF rebels, around 4.30 am," the Congolese police told twitter.
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Historically, the ADF are Ugandan Muslim rebels installed in eastern DRC (ex-Zaire) since 1995. They have not attacked neighboring Uganda for years, living off trafficking in the dense forest around Beni, where they stumped.
The ADF has been accused of the massacre of more than a thousand civilians in the region since October 2014.
Through its propaganda organ, ISIS "claimed responsibility for the raid" against the prison "which led to the release of 900 prisoners, "said the American group Site, which specializes in monitoring jihadist organizations.
- Fears over security -
"Islamic State fighters attacked Kangbayi prison and a Congolese military base in the Beni area this morning," according to the ISIS statement in Arabic, quoted by Site.
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Several attacks attributed to the ADF have been claimed by "Islamic State - Central Africa" since April 2019, sometimes with factual errors. The ADF for their part have never claimed any action.
"I do not know if there is a formal link" between the ADF and the IS, declared the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, to Radio France internationale (RFI) after a visit in Beni at the beginning of September 2019. "But it is obvious that there are real connections because there are recruitments which are made in other countries, and which go to the DRC".
Dozens of soldiers and police secured the prison Tuesday in the middle of the day, while local authorities visited the place, noted an AFP correspondent.
Two armored vehicles of the United Nations Mission in Congo (Monusco) were also visible.
On the spot, residents said they feared an increase in "insecurity".
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This escape "strengthens criminal gangs in the Beni region", summed up the citizen movement Fight for Change (Lucha).
- "Despicable attack" -
The escape "further removes any hope of justice and truth in the region because a good part of the presumed perpetrators of the massacres in Beni, for whom a public trial had been awaited for years, left calmly "Lucha added.
The very active US Ambassador to the DRC, Mike Hammer, condemned the "vile attack on the central prison" in Beni. "Those who escaped must be caught," added Mr. Hammer, who visited Beni two weeks ago during a tour of eastern DRC on the subject of insecurity.
"All light must be shed on the circumstances of this attack," added his counterpart from Canada, Nicolas Simard.
The ADF has killed hundreds of civilians since November 2019, when the Congolese army announced an offensive against their bases and their leaders in the forest and jungle around Beni.
In June 2017, in the same prison in Beni, eleven people were killed and more than 900 prisoners escaped during the attack carried out by unidentified "assailants", according to the then governor of North Kivu .
Of the eleven victims, eight were police officers killed "during exchanges of fire between the police and the attackers".
In May 2017, several hundred or even thousands of detainees (between 600 and 4,600 according to estimates) escaped from Makala central prison in the capital Kinshasa, also after an attack carried out by unidentified individuals.
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