DRC Church Bombing; Uganda’s Readiness to Guarantee Safety of Public Space

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On January 15, 2023, a bomb blast suspected to have been planted by the Allied Democratic Forces exploded and killed about 14 people from the CEPAC Pentecostal Church at Kasindi-Lhubiriha town, North Kivu Province in the DRC, some four kilometers from the Mpondwe border in Kasese District. The incident also injured some 62 churchgoers.

The local authorities said that the explosion happened six minutes after an anonymous man who was part of the congregation had moved out, leaving behind a bag inside the church.

ADF carried out two suicide bombings in Kampala in November 2021, killing four people and injuring many more.

Following the incidents, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni issued strict security guidelines to the general public as well as security personnel. A few weeks later, the UPDF was deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo to hunt down ADF terrorists.

Fast-forward food for thought:

Public gatherings, including a church, being a place that welcomes everyone, irrespective of origin and motive, are more targeted by the rebels.

Churches must therefore be extra vigilant and aware of unfamiliar people entering churches, but they must also tighten their security by putting in place checkpoints to check everyone before entering the church.

The incident that happened at CEPAC church in the DRC could have been avoided if checkpoints had been installed before entering the church.

This is a message to the churches and other public gatherings in Uganda to strengthen their checkpoints because the adversary is in the communities.

What lessons can we learn from the bomb blast incident?

With the previous several attacks in Uganda, including the bombings at the Central Police Station and Parliamentary Avenue in Kampala, it is clear that Uganda is not immune to terrorist attacks.

The attack on the DRC Church demonstrates that terrorists have no friends, no matter where they are or what time it is. The reason churches and other public places in Uganda need to install strict security checks for everyone.

The author is a security analyst based in Kasese.

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