DRC: Tension Persists In Beni

Three people died in clashes between security forces and protesters in the town on Wednesday.

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Just days after rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) reportedly massacred over 50  civilians in the locality of Beni, North Kivu in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo last Saturday, three more people were killed in the locality on Wednesday, August 17, 2016. The three people killed on Wednesday included a policeman and two civilians.

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Daily Mail Online reports that several hundred people  rallied on the main street of Beni at the end of a three-day mourning period called by civil groups over the murder of the over 50 people on Saturday night. Police and troops are said to have fired tear gas and warning shots in a bid to break up the crowd, but the protestors blocked off streets with barricades. Edmond Masumbuko, Mayor of Beni told news agencies that in the first fatal incident, “a policeman and a civilian were killed, nine people were injured, (comprising) six civilians and three soldiers."

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Gilbert Kambale, the head of Beni’s civil society movement reportedly said the civilian fatality was a young man who was killed by a policeman. In the second incident, a woman suspected of being a member of the rebel group was lynched in northern Beni, near where the massacre took place, Masumbuko  is cited as saying. The woman was said to have been beaten to death with stones and sticks and her body was then torched. Reports further disclosed that at least six demonstrators were arrested in a violent manner and thrown into a military jeep and taken away.

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The tension reportedly rose to the extent that an effigy of President Joseph Kabila was burned in the main market in Beni, as well as flags of his ruling People's Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD). The burnings were just a tip of the iceberg in deteriorating relations between the residents of Beni and government. Reports say Prime Minister Augustin Matata was on August 16, 2016 booed by hundreds of demonstrators outside Beni town hall, where he gave a short speech after a three-hour whistle-stop visit.  .

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