Congo security forces killed at least 34 protesters

December 22, 2016 14:20

Security forces in Democratic Republic of Congo killed at least 34 people during protests this week against President Joseph Kabila's refusal to step down at the end of his mandate, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday.

Congo's capital Kinshasa and other cities were convulsed by violent demonstrations on Tuesday as Kabila, in power since 2001, reached the end of his second term in office without an election in place to choose his successor.

HRW's Central Africa director said on Twitter that the deaths, including 19 in the capital Kinshasa and five in the southeastern mining hub of Lubumbashi, happened at protests early on Tuesday and HRW was verifying reports of more deaths.

Congo's government says 22 people were killed in the clashes, including a police officer, most of them by stray bullets or while looting.

Separately, fighting in the eastern province of North Kivu between Hutu and Nande ethnic militia - violence fed by Congo's political uncertainty and its security vacuum - killed 17 civilians and a police officer, a local army spokesman said.

"Some were killed by gunshots and others by machetes," local army spokesman Captain Guillaume Djike told Reuters.

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