GOMA, Congo—Families of the victims of recent bomb attacks on two camps of displaced people in eastern Congo gathered to mourn their loved ones at an evening ceremony. During the ceremony in the city of Goma in the North Kivu Province, mourners sang and lit candles in tribute to the deceased.

The bombings at the Mugunga and Lac Vert displacement camps killed at least 18 people and injured another 32, according to the United Nations. It wasn’t clear which type of explosives were used in the attacks. Most of the victims were women and children.

Alimeti Kigiho, who survived the attack, had sought shelter from eastern Congo’s long war at the Mugunga displacement camp in February, only to be shaken by explosions while going to fetch water. He ran back to his tent, where he found the bodies of his wife and two young children, aged six and two, in pieces.

“War has taken everything from me,” Kigiho, 45, told the Associated Press.


The Congolese army and a rebel group known as M23 have blamed each other for the bombings. The March 23 Movement, or M23, is a rebel military group mainly made up of ethnic Tutsis that broke away from the Congolese army 12 years ago.

The decades-long conflict in eastern Congo has produced one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with over 100 armed groups fighting in the region, most for land and control of mines with valuable minerals. Some are fighting to try to protect their communities. Many groups are accused of carrying out mass killings, rapes and other human rights violations.

The violence has displaced about seven million people, including thousands living in temporary camps like the ones attacked in late April. Many others are beyond the reach of aid.

Justine Joza Bushashire lost her 19-year-old son, Daudi, in the bombings. Before the attacks, he used to sell phone charging units in the camp to help support his family.

“He wanted to join the army, I opposed it because I relied heavily on him, but today he is gone,” said Justine, 37, in tears.

The attacks have driven some residents in the camp to consider returning to their homes, despite the dangers that caused them to flee in the first place.

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi accuses neighboring Rwanda of destabilizing Congo by backing the M23 rebels. UN experts, along with the U.S. State Department, have also accused Rwanda of backing the rebels. Rwanda denies the claims.

Some of the mourners at the ceremony on May 6 criticized President Tshisekedi along with the international community for failing to end the long-running conflict.

“If he is unable to end this war, he should resign,” Bienfait Bonane, a youth from Goma, told the Associated Press. (AP)