5 Killed, 50 Injured in Anti-U.N. Protests in Congo’s East

KINSHASA, Congo — At least five people have been killed and about 50 others injured on the second day of demonstrations in Congo’s eastern city of Goma against the United Nations mission in the country, a government official said.

Demonstrators on Monday had set fires and forced entry into the U.N. mission offices in Goma, accusing the peacekeeping forces of failing to protect civilians amid rising violence in Congo’s eastern region. They want the U.N. force, which has been present in Congo for many years to be removed.

“At least 5 dead, around 50 wounded,” government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said in a tweet, condemning attacks on U.N. personnel and buildings.

Protesters charged the death of peacekeepers with firing shots.

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The government spokesman didn’t say what caused the deaths but described the response by security forces and peacekeepers as “warning shots to disperse the demonstrators and prevent any attack on the @MONUSCO base and installations,” he said on his Twitter account.

“The government has instructed the security forces to take all measures to ensure a return to calm and the normal resumption of activities in Goma,” he said. He said that the steps have been taken to ensure that peacekeeping troops are withdrawn.

In June 2021 and June 2022, the peacekeeping mission known by its French acronym MONUSCO closed its office in Congo’s Kasai Central and Tanganyika regions. According to U.N. records, there are more than 16,000 Congolese uniformed personnel.

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As fighting escalates between Congolese troops & the M23 rebels causing nearly 200,000 people forced to flee their homes, protests took place. According to Human Rights Watch, the M23 force has shown an increase in firepower and defence capabilities.

Congo’s east is home to myriad rebel groups and the region’s security has worsened despite a year of emergency operations by a joint force of the armies of Congo and Uganda. In the east, civilians have had to contend with the violence of jihadi rebels associated to the Islamic State group.

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