At least three killed as DR Congo police fire on banned protests

A relative, carried by two men, reacts and mourns the death of a man who succumbed to a gun shot wound during a protest called on by the Catholic Church, to push for the President of the DR of the Congo, to step down on Feb. 25, 2018. (AFP Photo)

At least three people were killed and over 20 injured Sunday as police fired live bullets and tear gas to disperse banned protests calling on Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila to stand down, a Catholic organization said Sunday.

One of the casualties was a demonstrator in the capital city of Kinshasa, while the other two were in the north-western city of Mbandaka, said a spokesperson for the Catholic association that organized the protests.

Several people were also injured and police used tear gas against the crowds, the spokesperson said.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo said there were at least two dead, 47 injured and more than 100 people arrested.

Several organizations reported a number of arrests made during the protests, which were prohibited by Kabila's government.

Mobile internet and texting services had also been stopped on Sunday.

The Catholic Church has been instrumental in organizing protests against the Kabila government, after the president twice delayed elections.

Elections were supposed to be held in 2016, then last year, and are now scheduled for December.

Authorities have cracked down on the church-organized protests, and at least 11 protesters have been killed in the past month and many more have been arrested.

Kabila, who took over from his father, has been in power since 2001.

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