Two killed in Congo after protesters torch UN buildings
GOMA, DRC - Two
people were killed in clashes with police in eastern Congo on
Monday after protesters in the town of Beni set fire to the
mayor's office and several UN buildings in anger at a new
round of violence by suspected Islamist rebels.
Rebels believed to belong to the Allied Democratic Forces
(ADF) killed eight people in an overnight raid, police said,
stoking residents' fury at the perceived inaction of both the
government and a UN peacekeeping mission.
The police said protesters torched the mayor's office. A
tweet by the police force showed flames shooting from the window
and thick black smoke billowing above.
The protesters then marched to the offices of the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo (MONUSCO), said Teddy Kataliko, a
civil society leader in Beni.
"Several offices at the MONUSCO headquarters were set on
fire and looted," Kataliko said. "Residents are demanding the
withdrawal of MONUSCO from Beni because of the inaction of UN forces."
Two people were killed by gunfire in the protests, Beni
police commander Safari Kazingufu told Reuters.
The United Nations said one civilian and one policeman died,
and that some of its offices were vandalised.
"We do understand the anger and frustration of the
population but ask for understanding that attacking UN or
local facilities... actually weakens the Congolese army's
operations against the ADF," said Matthias Gillman, a UN spokesman.
The UN mission has not been participating in the army's
offensive against the ADF launched late last month, he added,
other than providing intelligence and medical assistance.
ADF fighters have killed more than 70 civilians in reprisal
attacks since those operations began, according to Kivu Security
Tracker, a research group.
"It is scandalous that civilians are dying day in, day out
while the local police and nearby UN peacekeepers stay put in
their camps," said Seif Magango from rights group Amnesty
The dense jungle terrain makes it difficult to protect every
remote village, especially when the ADF tend to attack silently
at night, the United Nations said.
"We can't put a peacekeeper behind every Congolese," Gillman
The violence by the ADF and a patchwork of militias and
criminal bands near Congo's borders with Uganda and Rwanda has
hampered efforts to eradicate a more than year-long Ebola
outbreak, which is the second deadliest of all time.
The ADF, an Islamist militant group founded in neighbouring
Uganda, has operated in eastern Congo for two decades. Some ADF
attacks have been claimed by Islamic State, although the extent
of any relationship between the two groups is not clear.