Beni Observes 'Ghost Town' Protest Against ADF Rebel Attacks

Beni, DRC paralyzed by 'ghost town' protest against ADF rebel attacks; locals demand effective security measures to address ongoing violence in the region.

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Mahnoor Jehangir
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Beni Observes 'Ghost Town' Protest Against ADF Rebel Attacks

Beni Observes 'Ghost Town' Protest Against ADF Rebel Attacks

The city of Beni in North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of the Congo, was paralyzed by a 'ghost town' protest on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. The protest was organized by pressure groups and citizen movements to denounce the increase in attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group in the neighborhoods of Sayo, Kasanga-Tuha, and the rural commune of Mangina.

In the morning, young people supported by the protest movements erected barricades in the streets and avenues, while shops, stores, and the central market remained closed. Police intervened in some areas to restore order, but in others, the lack of vehicles and fuel hampered their presence. By the end of the morning, calm had returned, and socio-economic activities resumed in several parts of the city.

Over the weekend, between 10 and 15 civilians were killed in attacks in the Beni region of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, which were attributed to ADF rebels affiliated with the Islamic State. The attacks targeted a health center, with the assailants looting medical supplies. This incident mirrored a similar attack two weeks prior in the Beni commune of Mangina, where 10 people were killed.

The mayor of Mulekera, Colonel Ngongo Mayanga, confirmed the provisional death toll of more than 10 civilians and stated that efforts were underway to collect the bodies and the military was deploying to confront the threat. The ADF, a predominantly Muslim Ugandan rebel group, has operated in eastern DRC for three decades, causing the deaths of thousands of civilians. In 2019, they pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, and they are also implicated in recent attacks on Ugandan territory.

Kampala and Kinshasa initiated a joint military operation against the ADF in late 2021, but the efforts have not been successful in eradicating the group. Beni has been engulfed in mourning and rage after the recent ADF terror attacks that claimed numerous civilian lives. In response, the population has organized a two-day strike, with businesses, schools, and transportation shutting down.

Locals are expressing their frustration with the perceived ineffectiveness of the urban security council and are demanding the redeployment of more effective troops to the region. The protest signifies a united front of determination and solidarity, with organizers pledging to extend the demonstrations. The citizens' resolve to have their voices heard highlights the community's resilience in the face of the ongoing violence and their hope for lasting peace in the region.

Why this matters: The 'ghost town' protest in Beni highlights the growing frustration and desperation of the local population in the face of relentless ADF rebel attacks. The protest's scale and significance highlight the urgent need for more effective security measures and international support to address the long-standing conflict in eastern DRC.

Colonel Ngongo Mayanga, the mayor of Mulekera, confirmed the provisional death toll of more than 10 civilians in the recent ADF attacks and stated that efforts were underway to collect the bodies and deploy the military to confront the threat. The protest organizers have pledged to extend the demonstrations, signifying the community's resilience and determination to have their voices heard in the face of ongoing violence.

Key Takeaways

  • Beni, DRC paralyzed by 'ghost town' protest against ADF rebel attacks
  • 10-15 civilians killed in ADF attacks over the weekend, targeting a health center
  • Mayor confirms over 10 civilian deaths, military deployed to confront ADF threat
  • Locals express frustration at ineffective security, demand troop redeployment
  • Protest highlights community's resilience and demand for lasting peace in the region