Four people, including a baby, were killed and at least 12 wounded Monday in Goma, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), during a day of “dead city” action triggered to protest against criminality, authorities, and hospital sources said.
The demonstrators were also protesting against the alleged presence of Rwandan police in Goma, strongly denied by the authorities.
Early in the morning, demonstrators invaded the main streets of the capital of the North Kivu province, bordering Rwanda, setting fire to tires and erecting stone barricades on the road according to reports.
Police fired live ammunition and used tear gas to disperse the crowd. “Two law enforcement officers were killed and two seriously injured,” General Sylvain Ekenge, spokesman for the province’s military governor, told reporters, with police accusing protesters of stealing at least three weapons from the police.
A neighborhood leader and a police source who requested anonymity said that one protester, a motorcyclist, had been shot dead.
Activity in the city remained paralyzed throughout the day, with streets barricaded, stores, banks, schools, and the central market closed.
Youth movements in Goma had called for a “dead city” day on Monday, to protest against “growing criminality”.
Several violent incidents have occurred in recent weeks, including the death of a currency trader on December 14 and a robbery that left two people dead and several injured on December 16.
They are calling for an “uncompromising assessment” of the effects of the state of siege declared in early May in North Kivu and neighboring Ituri provinces in an attempt to end the violence of armed groups that have been scouring the eastern part of the country for more than a quarter-century.
But they also say they are “categorically opposed to the entry of Rwandan police into the city of Goma,” as a memorandum of understanding signed early last week in Kigali by the Rwandan and DRC police for better cross-border cooperation to fight various forms of trafficking may have suggested.
It is out of the question that Rwandan policemen come to maintain order in Goma, the general commissioner of the Congolese national police, General Dieudonné Amuli Bahigwa, said in Kinshasa on Saturday.
General Ekenge also deplored the “intoxication and manipulation” surrounding the agreement reached in Kigali.