Three killed in anti-govt. protest in Congo
Three people, including a policeman, have lost their lives in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) during a protest against the government’s alleged failure to protect people after a brutal massacre took place in the country’s restive east over the last weekend.
The fatalities occurred on Wednesday when police and army troops, using teargas and warning shots, attempted to disperse several hundreds of protesting people, who had rallied on the main street of the northeastern city of Beni, located in the North Kivu province, and had blocked off some other streets with barricades.
In the first fatal incident, “a policeman and a civilian were killed, nine people were injured, (comprising) six civilians and three soldiers,” Beni Mayor Edmond Masumbuko said in a statement on Wednesday.
He said that in another incident, a woman, suspected of being a member of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group, was killed in northern Beni on the same day.
According to Gilbert Kambale, the head of Beni’s civil society movement, the young civilian was shot dead by a policeman.
Congolese police nabbed at least six protesters, threw them into a military jeep and took them away.
The protest had been staged at the end of a three-day mourning in the Central African country, called by civil groups, over a tragic incident in which members of ADF on Saturday night bypassed army positions in Beni and hacked to death 51 people in revenge for military operations in the area.
In the Wednesday demonstration, protesters also burned down an effigy of the Congolese President Joseph Kabila, as well as flags of his ruling People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD), to show their dissent and hatred over the alleged inability of the government in safeguarding civilians’ lives.
The ADF, which is predominantly opposing Ugandan government, was founded in Uganda in 1995 and later moved to the impoverished DR Congo, and spread its reign of violence particularly in the North Kivu province. In its almost two decades of presence there, the rebel group has been accused of committing serious human rights violations, including recruiting child soldiers and rape, against local population.
The Congolese army, joined by UN troops, is on the offensive against the ADF and other rebel groups.