On the night of October 23, residents of the Christian neighborhood of Masosi—a community just outside Oicha, a town in the North Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)— started hearing gunshots.
This by itself wasn’t out of the ordinary (the volatile region is often under fire)—but something seemed different about the shots. “When the people heard gunshots at the beginning, they thought thieves had come into the village which is not unusual,” shares Mumbere, a Christian youth leader within the community. “But when the cracking of bullets lasted for an hour, they then knew it was the [Allied Democratic Forces (ADF)].”
By the time the people in Masosi woke up on the morning of October 24, 26 people were dead.
When the gunshots began and it was clear it was an attack, people began running for their lives. Some were caught and killed with machetes, while others died from gunshots immediately. Some of those who couldn’t flee were stuck in their houses, which were then burned by the gunmen.
Open Doors’ field sources estimate that at least 12 children are among the casualties—and that the figures may be higher. Twelve houses were burned, several shops were looted, and many believers have been reported missing, including women and children.
Christians in this part of the DRC are regularly targeted by ADF fighters. The ADF has been linked to the Islamic State group, but its overall goals seem murky. In January, the ADF detonated an explosive device in a church in North Kivu province that killed 17 believers. In March 2023, three attacks claimed the lives of 69 Christians. And more attacks by the ADF in May 2023 in the same region as Oicha left 12 Christians dead. Since April 2022, the United Nations says that the ADF has killed at least 370 civilians and kidnapped hundreds more.
Understandably, Masosi residents in Oicha are reeling. The day after the attack, angry citizens took to the streets, carrying the corpses of the victims, decrying the security situation in the territory. The protests brought daily activities, schools and markets to a standstill. Our field sources reported that the angry communities burned and destroyed more than 150 tons of food carried by the World Food Programme for displaced people.
“We don't need humanitarian aid, but we do want security,” one frustrated demonstrator told media when asked why residents had attacked trucks carrying relief aid.
“This is a bad situation,” Pastor Paluku Bagheni Joseph, a church leader in the region, told Open Doors field contacts.
Meanwhile, Masosi has been emptied of its population—most reisdents fled to other neighborhoods to find safety. “The Christian population of Oicha is in despair and disillusionment,” an Open Doors field source says. “They are losing hope. It is said that during the protest, some Christians questioned the safety God promises His children. This situation—like previous incidents—can cause Christians to resort to traditional religions in search of protection for their families.”
The Christian community in Oicha was still mourning earlier violence when this latest attack occurred. On Sunday, October 22, Elder Mumbere Kafukuliro and Mbambu Ndalya, a couple at the Pastoral School in Oicha, were killed on their way to their farm. And on October 4, Pastor Mbusa Lisasi, the father of six children, and his older brother Kakule Lisasi were declared dead by their families, after they were kidnapped on on September 30 on the way to their farm.
Our Christian family in the DRC needs prayer from the worldwide Body of Christ and strength from God to survive the severe suffering they face at the hands of the ADF. We must stand with them by going before the Lord in prayer. Our field tells us we can pray in the following ways: