BENI, 3 May 2021 – Unidentified gunmen have assassinated a Muslim scholar while he prayed in the main mosque in Beni city, eastern DR Congo.

Sheikh Ali Amini was shot dead as he led evening prayers on Saturday, ahead of breaking the daily fast observed by Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan

Imam Sheikh Ali Amini Assassinated - Photo News 24

Imam Sheikh Ali Amini Assassinated – Photo News 24

Beni DR Congo - Source AFP

Beni DR Congo – Source AFP

The assassins fled the scene immediately after, according to eyewitness accounts in Beni, a city of about 200,000 people.

“It happened at 19:15 during evening prayers. Shots were fired inside the mosque hitting the imam.

The gunman got away as he had an accomplice outside the mosque waiting with a motorbike,” said Stewart Muhindo, a prominent human rights activists in the town.

While it is unclear who was behind the attack, much of the violence in the area is carried out by a Muslim rebel group, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

The group was formed more than 20 years ago in neighbouring Uganda to fight alleged discrimination against Muslims.

It relocated to eastern DR Congo after being driven out from its bases by the Ugandan military and has been blamed by the United Nations for the killing of nearly 200 people since January 2021.

Senior Muslim Cleric Sheikh Ali Amini Killed in Beni - Photo BBC

Muslims Praying at an Overflow Area Outside a Mosque – Photo BBC

Known for his criticism of Islamic militancy in the region, speculation has been rife since his demise that he may have been killed for voicing views that Islamist militants found unacceptable.

Several of the many rebel groups operating in eastern DR Congo are affiliated to the Islamic State (IS) group.

More than 2,000 civilians were killed by armed groups in eastern DR Congo last year, according to the United Nations.

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