Protestors stormed a U.N. peacekeepers' camp near the eastern DR Congo town of Beni yesterday, angered by failures to curb a notorious armed group that killed eight civilians overnight, an Agence France-Presse (AFP) reporter said. Demonstrators invaded one of two camps on the town's outskirts despite gunshots fired by Congolese security forces seeking to disperse the crowd. Dozens broke into the camp, which had apparently been evacuated, and set fire to a part of it, an AFP reporter witnessed. They were among an angry crowd several hundred strong that had headed to the camps after setting fire to Beni's town hall, partially damaging it.
The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia has plagued eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for decades, despite the presence of a large U.N. force and repeated declarations by the government to root it out.
Army spokesman Col. Mak Hazukai confirmed that the town had been attacked by armed men overnight, telling AFP that "the enemy entered the Boikene quarter and killed eight civilians." In the town center, two policemen were seen bleeding heavily from wounds after the morning protest, an AFP reporter saw. A demonstrator died when police opened fire on Saturday. Two policemen were killed the same day by angry demonstrators, the U.N. Okapi radio said.
Seventy-seven civilians have been killed in the Beni region since Nov. 5, according to nonprofit organization Congo Research Group (CRG). The army launched an offensive against the ADF on Oct. 30, vowing to "definitively wipe out" armed groups in the lawless east.