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5 dead as anti-UN protesters spread in eastern DRC

#dead #antiUN #protesters #spread #eastern #DRC

At least five people have been killed and dozens injured in anti-UN protests in eastern DRC, a government spokesman said Tuesday as unrest spread.

On Monday, hundreds of people blocked roads and chanted hostile slogans before storming the headquarters of the UN peacekeeping mission and a supply base in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.

Demonstrators smashed windows and looted valuables while helicopters hauled UN officials out of the compound and security forces fired tear gas to push them back.

In a post on Twitter, government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said “at least five people were killed and around 50 injured” in the riots.

Security forces fired “warning shots” at protesters to stop attacks on UN personnel, he said.

The unrest continued on Tuesday with the fatal shooting of a man near the supply base, an AFP correspondent saw.

Security forces pushed back crowds outside the depot as protesters waved placards with slogans such as “Bye bye MONUSCO.”

According to witnesses, anti-UN protesters also took to the streets in the North Kivu towns of Beni and Butembo.

Soldiers were deployed on the road leading to the MONUSCO base in Beni, some 350 kilometers (215) miles north of Goma, while protesters burned tyres.

Security forces also dispersed protesters who had gathered outside a MONUSCO base in Butembo, another provincial center, local sources said.

– Fury –

The UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, known as MONUSCO, is one of the world’s largest peacekeeping operations.

But it has drawn regular criticism in the troubled East, where many accuse it of not doing enough to stem decades of bloodshed.

More than 120 armed groups roam the volatile region, where civilian massacres are common and conflict has displaced millions.

The killings continued despite the presence of thousands of UN peacekeepers, sparking outbursts of anger among the local population.

In late 2019, nine anti-UN protesters were killed when Beni and Butembo were terrorized by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which the group Islamic State describes as its Central African offshoot.

In a statement Monday, Khassim Diagne, the UN Secretary-General’s deputy special envoy to MONUSCO, said the peacekeepers are there to protect civilians.

“The events in Goma are not only unacceptable, they are absolutely counterproductive,” he said.


The latest protests come after Senate President Modeste Bahati told supporters in Goma on July 15 that MONUSCO should “pack your bags”.

They coincide with the resurgence of the M23 – a militia that was mostly dormant for years before resuming combat last November.

Since then, rebels have made significant advances in eastern Congo, including capturing the north Kivu town of Bunagana on the Uganda border.

In 1999, the UN sent an observer mission to eastern Congo for the first time.

In 2010, this became the peacekeeping mission MONUSCO – the stabilization mission of the United Nations Organization in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – with a mandate to conduct offensive operations.

According to the United Nations, it currently has a strength of about 16,300 uniformed personnel.

The peacekeepers have lost 230 lives during their mission.

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