The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a deadly bombing at a Protestant church service on January 15 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
At least 10 people were killed and more than three dozen injured in the terrorist attack on a church in the eastern Congolese town of Kasindi on the border with Uganda, according to The Associated Press.
Congolese government officials linked the attack to the Allied Democratic Forces, an armed group in eastern Congo that is an affiliate of the Islamic State.
“The attackers used an IED to carry out the attack and we suspect ADF is behind the attack,” Bilal Katamba, the spokesman for Uganda’s military operation, told AFP.
The Islamic State later claimed responsibility for the attack on its Telegram account.
The church bombing occurred just weeks before Pope Francis is set to travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo at the end of this month.
The pope is scheduled to visit the Congolese capital of Kinshasa from January 31 to February 3 where he will meet with victims of violence from the country’s eastern region. Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege has said that hopes the pope’s January visit will shed light on the “crimes against humanity” occurring in the DRC’s eastern region.
The Allied Democratic Forces attacked a Catholic mission hospital in the country’s northeast province of North Kivu in October and killed six patients and Catholic Sister Marie-Sylvie Kavuke Vakatsuraki.
Another armed rebel group, the M23, executed 131 people “as part of a campaign of murders, rapes, kidnappings, and looting against two villages,” the U.N. reported on Dec. 8.
The violence in eastern Congo has created a severe humanitarian crisis with more than 5.5 million people displaced from their homes, the third highest number of internally displaced people in the world, according to a Catholic News Agency report.