Two killed in violent protests in eastern DR Congo

Protesters stand near the electoral commission in Beni during a demonstration against the postponement of elections in the territory of Beni and the city of Butembo on December 27, 2018. (Alexis Huguet/AFP)
Protesters stand near the electoral commission in Beni during a demonstration against the postponement of elections in the territory of Beni and the city of Butembo on December 27, 2018. (Alexis Huguet/AFP)

Beni – Two people were killed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday in fresh protests at failures to root out a notorious armed group, a military official said.

Demonstrations erupted in Beni and the town of Butembo, 50km away, military prosecutor Kumbu Ngoma told AFP's correspondent in Beni. The toll of two dead was confirmed by a spokesperson in Kinshasa for the UN peacekeeping mission MONUSCO. Four people died in protests on Monday, military investigators said.

The region has been plagued for more than two decades by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a shadowy militia that has its historical roots among Ugandan Islamists opposed to Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni.

On October 30, the Congolese armed forces announced they had launched an offensive to wipe out armed groups in eastern DRC. Since then, dozens of civilians have been killed, in what commentators say is a warning by the ADF not to collaborate with the authorities.

After eight more civilians were killed in Beni late on Sunday, crowds took to the streets, angered at the perceived failures by the Congolese authorities and UN to quell the ADF.

Frontline of militia violence, Ebola epidemic

They set fire to Beni town hall and stormed one of two UN camps, where they torched an office.

"There were four deaths during the day," Ngoma said late on Monday. "Ten civilians were wounded and three Congolese military were also hurt."

In New York, the United Nations Security Council condemned the attacks against civilians and UN installations in DR Congo during a meeting about the anti-UN protests that have turned violent in Beni.

In Tuesday's incidents, an AFP reporter saw the body of a young man with a head wound, lying about 50 metres from the UN camp.

Malawian UN troops were deployed at the base, but Congolese security forces had also been in the area, and it was unclear how the young man had been killed.

Beni, in addition to being in the frontline of militia violence, is also the epicentre of an Ebola epidemic that has killed around 2 200 people since August 2018.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday it had moved 49 Ebola staff out of Beni because of the insecurity, and warned of the impact this would have in the fight against the epidemic.

Seventy-one key staff will remain in the city to try to push on with the work.

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