At least four people were hurt after a bomb exploded at a busy market in the eastern city of Beni in Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday, police said, days after the US embassy in the capital Kinshasa warned of a possible attack.
Local police said they were looking for the suspected bomber after the blast in the eastern region where Congolese and Ugandan forces have launched a campaign against suspected armed rebels.
“We call on the population to be calm and especially vigilant,” said Beni city police spokesperson Nasson Murara.
Police tended to casualties at the market before taking them to a local police hospital, a Reuters news agency journalist on the scene said.
Frank Kasisa, the attending physician at Beni’s police hospital, said four people were in stable condition after being injured in the blast. He confirmed no one had been killed.
Stephanie Kahambu, who has a shop inside the market, said the market had been crowded before the explosion.
“We heard a bomb explode, and everyone fled in different directions,” Kahambu said. “It’s really sad because I saw four people who were seriously injured.”
The US embassy in Kinshasa said on Tuesday that it believed “terrorist attacks” were planned in Beni “in the near future”, and warned US citizens against travelling there.
Beni has experienced several bombings in recent years that authorities have blamed on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan armed group that has pledged allegiance to ISIL (ISIS).
On Christmas day, a suicide bomber attacked a restaurant in Beni, killing at least five people and himself, while at least people were wounded after three bombs rocked the east of the country in June last year.
The ADF is the deadliest of an estimated 122 armed groups that roam the mineral-rich east of the DRC, many of them a legacy of two regional wars that ran from 1996 to 2003.
In late November, the DRC and Uganda launched a joint operation against the ADF in the east of the country after Congolese troops struggled for months to quell bloody ADF attacks.