At least 19 civilians were killed in a new massacre attributed to the armed group of ADF near Beni, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where violent demonstrations denounce for a week the « passivity » of the UN and the authorities in the face of killings.
The UN also announced the opening of an investigation into the death of a Congolese demonstrator killed in a face-to-face meeting with UN peacekeepers on Tuesday.
The last massacre took place 30 km north of Beni, at the entrance of an area called « the triangle of death » because of the killings that have been going on for several years.
The civilian population should not be targeted and humanitarian organizations, structures and medical personnel should be respected
« Balance revised upwards. 19 dead, « told AFP a spokesman for the United Nations Mission in Congo (Monusco), which had previously documented 13, then 14 victims.
Monusco « sent this morning (Wednesday) a rapid intervention force with Congolese soldiers, » he added.
The assessment was confirmed by the researchers of the Study Group on Congo (GEC) of New York University.
A total of 99 people have been killed in the Beni area by armed groups since 5 November, according to the GEC count.
The perpetrators of these killings are in the « vast majority of cases » members of the armed group of Ugandan origin of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), according to a member of the GEC.
In response to the killings, the region of Beni, in North Kivu province, has been agitated for a week by anti-UN demonstrations, which have killed at least seven people since Saturday.
A protester was wounded Wednesday morning in Goma by the Congolese police, and a dozen others were arrested, said an AFP journalist.
« Monusco passively assists in massacres while its main mission is the protection of civilians, » said one of the protesters, Fiston Muhindo.
On Wednesday, the UN announced the opening of an internal « investigation » into the death of a Congolese demonstrator killed in a face-to-face meeting with Blue Helmets on Tuesday in Beni.
« The elements we have told us that it is the peacekeepers who are responsible for the death of this young man, » told AFP the acting spokesman of the Monusco in Kinshasa, Mathias Gillmann.
« According to our information, a young man was preparing to throw a Molotov cocktail, and one of the Blue Helmets apparently shot at him, » he added.
The young man was shot in the head during a face-to-face meeting between hundreds of demonstrators and Malawian peacekeepers outside a civilian base in Monusco, an AFP correspondent said.
The base had been ransacked the day before.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it had taken care of 27 wounded « following protests in recent days » in hospitals that the ICRC is supporting in the Beni region.
« We call on all actors to show restraint, » said Nour Khadam, head of the Red Cross office in Beni.
« The civilian population should not be targeted and humanitarian organizations, structures and medical personnel must be respected, » he added.
A protester killed on Saturday, apparently by police, was buried on Wednesday quietly in Beni, an AFP correspondent said.
On 30 October, the Congolese army announced military operations against the ADF bases in the Beni region.
The killings attributed to the ADF are reprisals against civilians, according to observers.
The DRC presidency announced Monday joint military operations with the Blue Helmets of Monusco in the region.
Initially, the ADF are Ugandan Muslim rebels hostile to President Yoweri Museveni, who retreated to the east of the current DRC in 1995.
They have not launched attacks on the neighboring Ugandan border for a long time. They live in autarky and family in the forest and jungle around Beni, terrorizing people and looting shops and livestock. Their number is estimated at a few hundred fighters.
In total, they are accused of killing over a thousand civilians in the Beni region since October 2014.