Smoke from the United Nations compound rises in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo, on Monday, November 25. AP Photo/Al-hadji Kudra Maliro.
Smoke from the United Nations compound rises in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo, on Monday, November 25. AP Photo/Al-hadji Kudra Maliro.

Two killed in Congo after protesters torch UN buildings

By Fiston Mahamba Time of article published Nov 25, 2019

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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

International.

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

said.

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. 

Reuters

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