DRC cops open fire on demonstration

Bukavu, DR Congo - Police opened fire Thursday on an opposition “caravan for peace” touring the Democratic Republic of Congo's troubled east, wounding several people.

The shooting erupted when several thousand demonstrators led by Vital Kamerhe, head of the opposition Union for the Congolese Nation (UNC), arrived in the city of Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu province, an AFP correspondent there said.

Congolese security officers position themselves as they secure the street near the state television headquarters in the capital Kinshasa. Credit: REUTERS

Hundreds of police stopped Kamerhe's caravan as it arrived on Independence Square at the entrance to the city, preventing the demonstrators from proceeding.

Police used tear gas and then opened fire on the crowd. At least five wounded people were taken to hospital, the correspondent said.

Kamerhe launched a tour of the resource-rich region, the scene of nearly 20 years of conflict, on Tuesday in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.

Authorities in the DR Congo capital of Kinshasa had twice prevented him from travelling to the east for his planned two-week tour.

Kamerhe was once a top ally of President Joseph Kabila, who has been in power since 2001 and won a new five-year term in a contested 2011 election. But Kamerhe had a falling-out with the president and is now one of his fiercest opponents.