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Islamist insurgency intensifies in eastern DRC

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an armed group that originated in Uganda, are engaged in an Islamist insurgency in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The ADF considers itself part of the Islamic State's Wilayat Wasat Afriqiyya, also commonly known as its Central Africa Province (ISCAP) and officially changed its name to the Wilayat Wasat Afriqiyya in September 2020. Subsequently, the group has grown in strength and confidence, conducting brazen attacks including the largest jail break in Beni, Nord-Kivu province, in October 2020, freeing more than 1,000 prisoners.

Since November 2019, the ADF as the Congolese element of the Wilayat Wasat Afriqiyya has been responsible for the deaths of at least 1,154 civilians in Beni territory alone, according to Janes Terrorism and Insurgency Centre (JTIC). The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that attacks by the armed group had left more than 200 civilians dead and nearly 40,000 people displaced in Beni since January 2021.

The group appears to be refining its tactics while increasing its attacks in Nord-Kivu province. Within a week in June, it staged several attacks, including an overnight raid on 30 June in Beni that resulted in the killing of more than 10 people according to local reports. The raid took place despite a curfew imposed by the Mayor of Beni, Narcisse Muteba, following two improvised explosive device (IED) attacks on 27 June, one targeting the Butsili Catholic church and the other an unsuccessful suicide bombing at a busy junction in Beni. The ADF later released a statement under the Wilayat Wasat Afriqiyya name, claiming responsibility for the so-called first suicide bombing in the DRC.

DRC soldiers inspect an ambush site where an hour previously ADF/Wilayat Wasat Afriqiyya insurgents had attacked two vehicles on the road between Beni and the Ugandan border town of Kasindi, on 9 April 2021 in Kilya, Rwenzori Sector, DRC. There have been multiple attacks across the province by the ADF, characterised by brutality and beheadings. (Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

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