War crime alert amid anti-UN protests in DR Congo

Police in the eastern part of Democratic Republic (DR) of Congo have clashed with demonstrators on a third day of violent anti-UN protests.

At least 17 people including three members of the United Nations (UN)’s peacekeeping force have been killed, officials say.

Protests erupted in the town of Goma as people accused the UN of failing to contain violence by armed groups.

The UN warned attacks on its mission, on the ground for more than two decades, may constitute a war crime.

Attacks were made on two of its bases, in Goma and in Butembo, where two Indian peacekeepers and a third member of the UN force were killed.

More than 50 people have been injured since the clashes began on Monday. On Wednesday, protesters again targeted UN bases in the region.

A spokesman said UN Secretary General, António Guterres, had called on the Congolese authorities to investigate the incidents.

The UN blamed the violence and looting of its property on criminals pretending to be protesters.

It said they had seized weapons from local police and opened fire.

“Mobs are throwing stones and petrol bombs, breaking into bases, looting and vandalising, and setting facilities on fire,” said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesperson for Mr Guterres, in a statement.

“The situation is very volatile and reinforcements are being mobilised. Our quick reaction forces are on high alert and have been advised to exercise maximum restraint, using tear gas to disperse protesters and only firing warning shots when UN personnel or property are under attack.”

Congolese troops were helping protect UN facilities, Mr Haq added.

Local police have also accused some members of armed groups of infiltrating the protests to incite hatred of the peacekeepers, whose force was officially known as United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO).

The DR Congo’s army was battling both the M23 armed movement and the Allied Democratic Force (ADF), a group affiliated with so-called Islamic State, and many other militias.

Anger was widespread over the UN’s failure to halt violence by armed groups operating in the mineral-rich east. -BBC

Show More
Back to top button