At least 10 people were killed Wednesday in eastern DR Congo’s city of Goma after soldiers attempted to stop a religious group’s planned anti-UN protest, organizers and hospital officials said.
Moleka Maregane, a member of the "Natural Judaic and Messianic Faith towards the Nations” group that organized the march, said Congolese soldiers killed six people at a radio station and place of worship early in the morning, before the protest could take place.
Goma mayor Colonel Faustin Napenda Kapend also told AFP that a policeman had been lynched by members of the religious group.
Security forces torched the group’s temple, he added.
Hospital officials said they had admitted 33 wounded people, three of whom three died of their injuries.
Congo’s army spokesman in North Kivu province, Lieutenant-Colonel Guillaume Ndjike, stated that about 20 people had been arrested.
"These people are playing the enemy’s game and are manipulated and drugged,” he said, in a recorded statement.
The United Nations peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo, known as MONUSCO, is one of the largest and costliest in the world, with an annual budget of around $1 billion. It has been present in the country since 1999.
But the UN comes in for sharp criticism in the central African nation, where many people perceive the peacekeepers as failing to prevent militia violence that has ravaged the east for three decades.
The force has a current strength of about 16,000 uniformed personnel, mainly deployed in Congo’s mineral-rich east.