Man shot dead at protest over DR Congo massacre

People argue as a woman is transported to the local hospital in Beni on Aug 15, 2016 during scenes of tension following a wave of unrest and violence in the region.
People argue as a woman is transported to the local hospital in Beni on Aug 15, 2016 during scenes of tension following a wave of unrest and violence in the region.PHOTO: AFP

BENI, DR CONGO (AFP) - A young man was shot dead on Wednesday (Aug 17) when security forces opened fire at a crowd protesting the government's alleged failure to protect civilians after a gruesome massacre in eastern DR Congo.

Police and troops fired tear gas and warning shots to break up an angry protest in the town of Beni where 51 civilians were hacked to death last weekend in the latest in a string of attacks blamed on rebels.

"This person was killed by a bullet to the back," hospital doctor Jeremie Muhindo told AFP, adding that five people had been injured in the clashes, including three by gunfire.

The head of Beni's civil society movement Gilbert Kambale confirmed the young man was killed by a police officer while a witness who would not be named said he had been shot at point blank range by a policeman.

Security forces stepped in after hundreds gathered in the town's main street on the last day of a three-day mourning period called by civil society groups over the gruesome murder of dozens of people on Saturday night.

The killings in and around Beni have been blamed by the government and the UN mission in the country on the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a partly Islamist armed group of Ugandan origin.

The group has been present in Democratic Republic of 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 deeply embroiled in criminal networks funded by kidnappings, smuggling and logging.

A report published in March by the Congo Research Group at New York University, which looked into the massacres around Beni, claimed that soldiers from the regular army had also participated in the killings.