Six Christians, including three women and a 9-year-old child, have died in an attack in the largely Christian village of Kalau near the city of Beni in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The attack that sent almost 500 Central Africans fleeing for their lives lasted four hours from 7 pm to 11 pm.
According to field sources, the attackers–part of the Allied Democratic Forces–pretended to be security agents when they arrived in the village. By the time they reached the village center, some youths became suspicious and raised the alarm. Militia then fired indiscriminately at villagers. The ADF was created in 1995 by Ugandan Muslim rebels to oppose the government after they were forced out of Uganda by the army.
A nurse in the Nyankunde hospital in Beni told Open Doors by phone that the attackers then proceeded toward the house of the village head. When they shot dead the guard dogs, the gunfire sent people running. Two villagers attempting to flee were killed.
According to Pastor Gilbert Kambale, who runs a civil society organization in Beni, 470 Congo families fled seven miles to Beni following the incident. Most sought refuge with various host families and in schools in the Beu Commune of Beni city. The Congo village of Kalau has a largely Christian population, dotted with adherents to African Traditional Religion (ATR).
In the last five years, hundreds of civilians have died in the Beni area of the Congo alone. ADF militants are thought to have killed at least 700 civilians and more than 20 UN peacekeepers.
The attack will likely be followed by more violence. A local community leader in Kalau who asked for anonymity because he fears for his safety told Open Doors: “We have heard the rebels saying they worked for long in the domains of kidnapping and killings, but now they want to move to the stage of occupying the territory. They want to occupy the area they claim as theirs.”
The area in the Congo is also under attack of disease with the North Kivu province in the eighth month of an Ebola outbreak. In recent weeks, armed attacks against Ebola treatment centers have increased with one clinic burned down.
Please pray boldly with us for our Christian brothers and sisters in Central Africa. They live under attack on multiple fronts. Pray for the Lord’s comfort to all those who have lost loved ones in the attack and for strength for those displaced from their homes. Ask God to intervene in their trials.