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United Methodists among dead from bloody attack in Beni

By Kathy L. Gilbert
Aug. 17, 2016 | UMNS

A United Methodist district superintendent in East Congo was wounded and two of his sisters were killed when the city was attacked on Aug. 13.

Although the government is reporting 51 deaths, the United Methodist leader said the death toll was closer to 101. The attack is being linked to the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a partly Islamist armed group of Ugandan origin. News reports said the people were hacked to death.

Judith Yanga, director of communications for the United Methodist East Congo episcopal area, reported a youth leader also lost three members of his family.

The names of the leaders are not included due to concerns for their safety.

Beni is 250 kilometers (about 150 miles) from Goma, said United Methodist Bishop Gabriel Unda, episcopal leader for the area.

“This is not the first time Beni has been victim of such slaughter,” he said.

“East Congo is the part of our country that is most affected by repeated wars since 1960 when Congo became independent,” Unda said.

“People are terribly suffering because of wars and are constantly on the move to flee from terrorists, groups of militia and other evil doers and leave all their belongings behind them. Please pray also for the church, country and its leaders,” he said in an email.

Yanga said residents are abandoning their homes and seeking refuge with host families.

“Until calm comes to the city we don’t really know about the loss of lives,” she said. “We need your prayers, dear brothers and sisters."

Gilbert is a multimedia news reporter for United Methodist News Service. Contact her at (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.