Protests rage in east Congo over killings

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By AFP

Five thousand protesters blocked roads and burnt tires in an eastern DR Congo city on Thursday, police and local leaders said, to protest a spate of killings including at least six deaths in the past 24 hours.

Officers have begun to clear Beni city’s main roads, urban police commander Colonel Safari Kazingufu said, after protesters set up barricades on the streets from 06:30am (0530 GMT).

“Really, it’s not right, there are killings every day,” said Kizito Bin Hangi, a local civil society official.

“Young people in Beni city decided to demonstrate. They threw stones on the avenues, burned tires in some neighbourhoods and called on the population to stop all work,” he said.

Police gave no figures for the demonstration but civil society leaders said some five thousand people protested.

A similar demonstration took place on Wednesday, with protesters travelling 15 kilometres (nine miles) to deliver a written letter to the office for the UN mission in Congo.

Several armed groups and criminal gangs operate in the volatile Beni region in North Kivu province, battling for control of its rich mineral resources, including the notorious Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

The ADF has been accused of killing several hundred civilians in recent years.

In the latest attack, on Wednesday, at least six people were killed in Mbau commune by an unknown group.

“The enemy arrived suddenly last night around 8:30pm… six people were killed while fleeing. I saw the bodies of five men and one woman. Four were killed by bullets and two by machete,” Noella Katongerwaki, president of the civil society for Beni territory, told AFP.

Two women and three children were also missing, she said.

The army confirmed six civilians had been killed.

Also on Wednesday, five people were kidnapped in the village of Mayele, Katongerwaki said.

As well as facing a string of killings by armed groups, Beni has been at the epicentre of an Ebola epidemic that has killed more than 1,800 people in the last year.

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