Three United Nations personnel were among 17 people killed in protests against a U.N. mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a crisis mapping monitor said Tuesday as the demonstrations entered their second day.
"At least six protesters were killed in Goma yesterday, and at least eight protesters and three MONUSCO staff in Butembo today,” the Kivu Security Tracker said.
The U.N. mission known as MONUSCO confirmed the fatalities.
In the eastern city of Goma, more than 127 protesters were also injured, the security monitor said, citing hospital sources. At least three U.N. bases were looted and burned, it added.
Government spokesperson Patrick Muyaya stated in a tweet on Tuesday that security forces had fired warning shots at protesters in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, to stop attacks on U.N. personnel.
"We will also take stock of the process of withdrawing the @MONUSCO that has already begun," he added.
According to local media, demonstrators set fire to a minibus on Tuesday in Vision 20-20, a neighborhood north of Goma.
Some people in the country want the U.N. mission's 14,000 personnel to leave.
On Monday, hundreds of people took to the streets in Goma to demonstrate against what they described as the "ineffectiveness” of the U.N. mission in bringing peace to the eastern province.
Chanting anti-U.N. slogans, the demonstrators blocked roadways before storming the headquarters and logistical base of the U.N. peacekeeping force.
Security forces fired tear gas shells to disperse the angry crowds, who were vandalizing and looting valuables, while helicopters evacuated U.N. staff from the premises.
The Congolese government "strongly condemned” any form of attack on U.N. personnel and facilities, stressing that those responsible would be prosecuted and severely punished.
In a statement on Monday, the U.N. mission denounced the attack on its premises.
"The incidents in Goma are not only unacceptable but totally counterproductive,” said Khassim Diagne, the deputy special representative for operations and acting head of mission.
"MONUSCO is mandated by the Security Council to support the authorities in protecting civilians. It stands with the population and supports the national defense and security forces in their fight against armed groups. The Mission also supports the Congolese authorities in their efforts to restore State authority,” he added.
The U.N. mission in Congo has been repeatedly criticized for its perceived ineffectiveness to stop fighting in the volatile east, where hundreds of armed groups attack civilians.
This situation comes a few days after a meeting in mid-July at which Modeste Bahati Lukwebo, president of the Congolese Senate, accused the international community of being "complicit" in the country's insecurity while encouraging people to "take up all kinds of arms" to defend themselves.
"We even ask ourselves the question of whether it is worth continuing to keep MONUSCO on our territory as 20,000 soldiers have been stationed there for 22 years, but there is no peace," Lukwebo said.