Young people in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have been protesting since Monday against the UN’s failure to prevent a wave of civilian killings by armed groups.

Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) soldiers sit on a vehicle in Beni, North Kivu province of Democratic Republic of Congo, December 14, 2018.
Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) soldiers sit on a vehicle in Beni, North Kivu province of Democratic Republic of Congo, December 14, 2018. (Reuters)

Police in Democratic Republic Of Congo’s Beni have fired live rounds to disperse protesters who are demanding the departure of the United Nations peacekeeping mission.

"Young people have barricaded almost all the roads to ask the U.N. mission to leave this region plagued by massacre," Beni mayor Buhindo Bakwanamaha Modeste said on Thursday.

"This morning the police are clearing the blocked roads, that's why there is shooting all over the city," he said.

Hundreds of youths have been protesting in several cities in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since Monday, angry that the UN mission, known as MONUSCO, has failed to prevent a wave of civilian killings by armed groups.

So far this year around 330 people have been killed in the violence, an unresolved legacy of a civil war that officially ended in 2003, according to the Kivu Security Tracker, which maps unrest in the region.

"Young people have barricaded almost all the roads to ask the U.N. mission to leave this region plagued by massacre," Beni mayor Buhindo Bakwanamaha Modeste told Reuters.

"This morning the police are clearing the blocked roads, that's why there is shooting all over the city," he said.

A local police spokesman confirmed that they were clearing blocked roads and "re-establishing order".

Heavy gunfire started around 7:00 am local time (0500 GMT) and was continuing three hours later, a Reuters witness said.

Failure to protect

At least one protester was seriously injured by gunshot, said Clovis Mutsova, a member of the youth activist group LUCHA.

"We only demand two things: for MONUSCO to leave and for the Congolese government to take its responsibility so that we can have peace," Mutsova said.

Responding to the protests, MONUSCO spokesman Mathias Gillman said on Wednesday: "We are here because the Congolese government invited us, and if they want us to leave we will."

MONUSCO took over from an earlier peacekeeping mission in 2010 and has more than 18,000 uniformed personnel.

Congo's mineral-rich east has been plagued by violence for decades but killings have more than doubled in the last year, the United Nations says.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies