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DRC: At least six killed in Beni christmas day suicide bombing

Site of bomb blast in Beni North Kivu   -  
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Democratic Republic Of Congo

A bomb blast in the eastern city of Beni in the Democratic Republic of Congo killed at least six people on Saturday, officials and AFP reported.

Narcisse Muteba, the colonel running the city during the state of emergency in the east of the country, said the bomb had gone off in the city centre. He called on residents to return to their homes for their own safety.

Although Muteba did not give a toll for the explosion, an AFP correspondent saw the remains of three bodies at the site of the blast, the In Box restaurant.

The remains of the restaurant's tables, chairs, bottles and glasses were scattered across the blast site.

More than thirty people were celebrating Christmas there when the bomb went off, two witnesses told AFP.

"I was sitting there," local radio presenter Nicolas Ekila told AFP. "There was a motorbike parked there. Suddenly the motorbike took off, then there was a deafening noise."

A police vehicle took the wounded to a nearby medical centre, which was immediately sealed off.

On June 27 in Beni, a blast from a homemade bomb at a Catholic church wounded two women, the same day a man died when the bomb he was carrying went off.

The day before, another device blew up near a service station without doing any damage. The authorities blamed the attacks on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the deadliest of the militia.

Beni, in Ituri province, on the DRC's eastern border with Uganda, has been the site of regular clashes between the army and the ADF.

North Kivu and neighbouring Ituri have been under a "state of siege" since May, an emergency measure in which the military has taken effective control but which so far has not succeeded in stopping the attacks from the armed militia.

On November 30, the DRC and Uganda launched a joint operation against the ADF in the east of the country to try to quell the bloody ADF attacks. Uganda has also blamed the group for a string of attacks on its territory.

The ADF was historically a Ugandan rebel coalition whose biggest group comprised Muslims opposed to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

But it established itself in eastern DRC in 1995, becoming the deadliest of scores of outlawed forces in the troubled region.

It has been blamed for the killings of thousands of civilians over the past decade in the DRC, as well as for bombings in the Ugandan capital Kampala.

The Islamic State group presents the ADF as its regional branch -- the Islamic State Central Africa Province, or ISCAP.

On March 11 this year, the United States placed the ADF on its list of "terrorist groups" affiliated with IS jihadists.

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