A suicide bomber set off his bomb on Christmas Day in Beni, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), killing seven people and injuring 20, authorities said.
The first official report on Saturday reported five people killed in the explosion caused by the suicide bomber in a restaurant in central Beni, in the province of North Kivu.
The authorities immediately accused the rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) of being responsible for the attack.
“At present, the provisional toll shows eight dead including a captain of the 22nd brigade who was at the restaurant with his wife and children”, as well as the suicide bomber, said at a press conference Patrick Muyaya , Minister of Communication and spokesperson for the Congolese government.
“There are also 20 injured, including two young girls, two young boys, two women with fractured lower limbs, two women seriously injured” as well as two local administrative officials, he added.
As for the suicide bomber, “his identification is difficult,” said Lieutenant-General Constant Ndima, military governor of North Kivu.
“We could only recover his head. It was completely torn apart by the explosion. But we will get there because we have a database,” he told reporters.
Lieutenant-General Ndima called on “his administration to be strong and vigilant because no part of the country will be ceded to the enemy ADF who wants to install a caliphate in the Great Lakes region.”
North Kivu and the neighboring province of Ituri have been under a state of siege since early May, an exceptional measure that gave full powers to the military but has so far failed to stop the abuses by armed groups.
In these two provinces, the Congolese and Ugandan armies have been carrying out joint operations since November 30 against positions of the ADF, a rebel group born in Uganda.
The deadliest group in the DRC, the ADF are also accused by Kampala of being responsible for recent attacks on its soil, claimed by the jihadist organization Islamic State (IS), which presents this group as its province in Central Africa (Iscap) .