Nearly 50 killed in east DR Congo crackdown on anti-UN protest
Congolese soldiers crack down on a demonstration against United Nations forces in the city of Goma.
At least 48 people have been killed in a crackdown on an anti-UN protest in eastern DR Congo, AFP reported citing sources and official documentation, which raised a previously reported death toll.
On Wednesday, Congolese soldiers stopped people from holding a demonstration against United Nations forces in the city of Goma.
Some 10 people were initially reported killed after the troops entered a radio station and a place of worship, according to local sources. A policeman was also lynched in the violence.
However, AFP reported that an internal army document verified by security officials gave a toll of 48 people killed in the incident -- in addition to the slain policeman -- and 75 people wounded. The document also said soldiers seized a number of bladed weapons and arrested 168 people.
In a statement late on Thursday, the government put the toll at "43 dead, with 56 injured and 158 people apprehended, including the sect leader."
It said it supported "the investigation opened by the military auditor... so that those responsible can be brought to justice."
The Democratic Republic of Congo's east has been ravaged by militia violence for three decades.
The UN forces mission in the region is one of the largest and costliest in the world, with an annual budget of about $1 billion. Nonetheless, the UN is under sharp criticism in the Central African nation, where many people perceive the peacekeepers as failing to prevent conflict.
Last year, dozens were killed in anti-UN protests across eastern Congo, including four UN troops.
The latest violence comes amid an ongoing debate over when the UN force in the DRC, known as MONUSCO, should leave the country.
Last year, Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi told French media there was no reason for MONUSCO to remain beyond the December 2023 presidential election.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also said in August that the UN mission is in its final phase.
"MONUSCO continues to be a focus of popular discontent and frustration over its perceived inaction," Guterres said.
The force has a current strength of about 16,000 uniformed personnel, mainly deployed in Congo's mineral-rich east.