Crowds of protesters threw rocks outside four United Nations compounds in eastern Congo on Monday, venting outrage at what they claimed was a failure by peacekeepers to protect them from rebel forces advancing on the provincial capital of Goma.
People in eastern Congo are furious that the 17,000-strong UN peacekeeping force has been unable to protect them from a rebel force which says it is fighting to protect ethnic Tutsis. Residents opposed to rebels, including Hutus and those who lived in camps after fleeing earlier conflicts, feel particularly threatened. Tens of thousands of civilians have abandoned their homes.
The crowds shattered windows and damaged cars at the main UN office, UN spokeswoman Sylvie van den Wildenberg said. One witness said he saw a peacekeeper fire into the crowd at one compound and injure a man, but it was not immediately possible to confirm the report.
Hundreds of soldiers pulled back from the front just 40 kilometers north of the city in tanks, jeeps, trucks and on foot in what appeared to be a major retreat. Soldiers honked their horns angrily as they struggled to push through throngs of displaced people poured onto the main road.
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