A man was killed on Tuesday in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo during a protest against United Nations peacekeepers, police and the UN said, in the latest violence in the troubled region.
Returning from patrol, UN peacekeepers, escorted by DR Congo armed forces, “were attacked by demonstrators throwing stones”, the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC, known as MONUSCO, said in a statement.
“Warning shots permitted a path to be made through. One person unfortunately lost their life,” it added. “A joint investigation with the Congolese authorities will enable the circumstances of this death to be established.”
A police spokesman Nasson Murara had earlier said that UN troops had been passing through the town of Beni in North Kivu province when protesters on motorbikes blocked them and started throwing stones.
The troops fired shots to disperse the crowd, he said. “Unfortunately, in this mess of bullets, there was a stray that hit a driver, who is dead,” he told AFP. Police have launched an investigation to “identify the perpetrators of these shots”, Murara said.
Pepe Kavotha, the head of a network of civil society groups in Beni, said they “condemned the peacekeepers firing on the population”. The latest unrest follows deadly protests in July against MONUSCO.
Thirty-two demonstrators and four UN troops died over the course of a week-long disturbance, according to a Congolese toll, and UN bases were ransacked. An estimated 120 armed groups roam eastern DRC, many of them a legacy of two regional wars that flared in the last decade of the 20th century.
Many Congolese are frustrated by MONUSCO’s perceived ineffectiveness in the face of persistent violence.
The United Nations first deployed an observer mission to eastern Congo in 1999. It became the peacekeeping mission MONUSCO — the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo — in 2010, with a mandate to conduct offensive operations.
It has a current strength of about 16,000 uniformed personnel.