Region of Concern: Democratic Republic of Congo
Written By Mridul Mahendroo; Edited by Amy McGee and Salomon Montaguth
Date: January 16, 2023
North Kivu Regional Map
Event: On January 15, militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) at a church in the town of Kasindi in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu Province. According to a Congolese military spokesman, this led to 10 killed and 39 wounded. The ISIS-linked Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), based in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, claimed responsibility for the attack. According to a UN report, ADF militants have changed tactics increasing their focus on large-scale attacks in urban areas. Law enforcement authorities arrested a Kenyan suspect after the attack. As a response to previous attacks, the Congolese President had instituted a state of siege in North Kivu and Ituri by heavily increasing the military presence.
Significance: The ADF's strong presence in North Kivu makes it likely that it will continue targeting busy urban areas such as markets and large gatherings leading to civilian casualties. Militants are more likely to attack North Kivu Christian-majority areas in the context of jihad. The destruction of personal property due to attacks will likely affect the local economy as fewer civilians will go to public spaces such as markets, malls, and high-traffic areas. The regional militarization and state of siege make it unlikely that attackers will attack in large numbers using firearms but they will likely prioritize infiltration and suicide attacks using explosive devices. If there is failure from law enforcement authorities to obtain results from their investigations, it will likely create tensions between affected local populations and the authorities.
Recommendations: The Congolese army should dissuade large gatherings and reinforce security in public spaces and Christian-majority areas. The Congolese and Kenyan Intelligence Communities should cooperate in providing a thorough background check on the suspect and looking for affiliation with terrorist groups and suspicious activity. Border forces in the country’s east should increase their vigilance and inspect individuals crossing into Congo to find terrorist-linked activity. Local police should identify individuals suspected to be affiliated with terrorist groups living near Kasindi and investigate their recent activities. Intelligence related to the attack should be identified by monitoring social media, local radios, and by questioning local people.
 Bomb kills 10 at DR Congo church in attack claimed by IS group, Africanews, January 2023, https://www.africanews.com/amp/2023/01/16/bomb-kills-10-at-dr-congo-church-in-attack-claimed-by-is-group/