Cur­few slapped on DRC towns af­ter deadly clashes

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

BENI — Author­i­ties slapped a dawn-to-dusk cur­few on two north­east DRC towns on Thurs­day, fol­low­ing deadly clashes over the gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to pre­vent re­peated civil­ian mas­sacres.

In­te­rior Min­is­ter Evariste Boshab an­nounced the 19:00 to 06:00 cur­few on Butembo and Beni af­ter the mas­sacre of more than 50 civil­ians last week­end.

The slay­ing in which vic­tims were the lat­est in a string of mas­sacres that has left more than 700 dead since 2014.

The grue­some Sat­ur­day night killings prompted an an­gry march by hun­dreds of peo­ple from Butembo to Beni on Wed­nes­day, which ended in tear gas, gun­fire and clashes, leav­ing a po­lice­man and a pro­tester dead.

In a sep­a­rate in­ci­dent, a woman was beaten to death with stones and sticks and her body set alight on sus­pi­cion of be­ing a mem­ber of the rebel group be­lieved to be be­hind the civil­ian mas­sacres.

The vi­o­lence added to the ex­ist­ing ten­sion in Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic of Congo, where fears are mount­ing that Pres­i­dent Joseph Ka­bila plans to hold on to power af­ter his sec­ond man­date ex­pires in De­cem­ber.

The US has warned of the threat of more vi­o­lence in the min­eral-rich na­tion of 70 mil­lion peo­ple.

In Beni on Wed­nes­day, an ef­figy of Ka­bila was burned in the town’s main mar­ket, as were flags of Ka­bila’s rul­ing Peo­ple’s Party for Re­con­struc­tion and Democ­racy (PPRD).

The deadly protests came a day af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Au­gustin Matata was booed by hun­dreds out­side Beni’s town hall, af­ter he vis­ited the mas­sacre site.

“What did he come for? We don’t need hu­man­i­tar­ian aid, but peace,” said Ger­main Katembo, a sur­vivor of the mas­sacre who lost three mem­bers of his fam­ily.

The killings have been blamed by the gov­ern­ment on the rebel Al­lied Demo­cratic Forces (ADF), a partly Is­lamist armed group of Ugan­dan ori­gin.

The group has been present in DR Congo for more than two decades and is ac­cused of a litany of hu­man rights abuses.

The ADF, op­posed to Uganda’s Pres­i­dent Yow­eri Mu­sev­eni, is thought to be heav­ily in­volved with crim­i­nal net­works funded by kid­nap­pings, smug­gling and log­ging.

But a re­port pub­lished in March by the Congo Re­search Group at New York Univer­sity, which probed the mas­sacres around Beni, claimed that sol­diers from the reg­u­lar army had also par­tic­i­pated in the killings. — AFP

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