An imam representing the Islamic community in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s Beni town was shot dead by rebels on Saturday evening while praying at a mosque, local authorities said on Sunday.
Modeste Bakwanamaha, the mayor of Beni town in North Kivu province, said Sheikh Ali Amin was killed around 7 p.m. local time (1800 GMT).
Military officials in the region contacted by Anadolu Agency said there were “serious threats” to the imam who opposed radicalism and local armed groups.
The assassins have not yet been identified. The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) group, is, however, active in eastern DRC.
The ADF rebels — originating in Uganda’s northeast in the 1990s — have been attacking and killing civilians, as well as UN personnel in eastern DRC for the past many years.
To contain the armed group, President Félix Tshisekedi declared a state of siege on Friday in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, bordering Uganda.
The ADF raided the village of Kyaninga, bordering Uganda on Thursday night and killed six civilians, according to local authorities.
The DRC has been plagued by violence for years as several rebel groups fight with each other or against the country’s military and UN forces for territorial control.
According to the UN, exploitation of natural resources continues to be a root cause and driver of conflict, with most armed groups having set aside their political demands and being involved in mineral trafficking.