BENI, Congo (AP) — Police dispersed about 100 demonstrators in Congo’s eastern town of Beni on Monday, a day after U.N. peacekeepers returning to duty killed three people and wounded more than a dozen at the border with Uganda.
Dalzon Mikundi, president of the Beni Urban Youth Council, said they want the U.N. to cover medical care for the victims wounded by peacekeepers amid demonstrations demanding that the U.N. force leave Congo.
Tensions between the population in restive eastern Congo and the U.N. peacekeeping force have risen dramatically in the past week or so, with more than 20 killed in protests calling for the force to leave.
On Sunday, U.N. peacekeepers opened fire on civilians in Kasindi, a border town with Uganda in Congo’s North Kivu province.
“I call on the youth of Beni to put pressure peacefully and not to fall into vandalism,” said Mikundi. “I also call on our government to play its role well in securing its population so as not to rely on foreign forces.”
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was outraged by the shooting in Kasindi and he offered an apology to Congo’s president Mondayu.
“The Secretary-General is both saddened and dismayed by the loss of life and serious injuries sustained during this incident. He expresses his deepest condolences to the affected families, the people of the DRC (Congo) and the Congolese government,” a U.N. statement said.
Guterres also welcomed investigations into the incident and said the peacekeeper’s nation has been contacted to quickly begin “judicial proceedings with the participation of victims and witnesses so that appropriate sanctions can be handed down.”
U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said the secretary-general spoke to President Félix Tshisekedi of Congo on Monday morning and apologized for Sunday’s incident and conveyed his condolences.
To bring about stability in eastern Congo, he said, “effective dialogue” is needed and for that to happen the U.N. demands “the unconditional withdrawal of the M23 group” and calls on all armed groups to cease all forms of violence.
Guterres said the U.N. is totally committed to coordinating and working with the Congolese armed forces, Haq said. nd bring about stability in eastern DRC, effective dialogue is needed, he said, and for that to happen, we demand the unconditional withdrawal of the M23 group and call on all armed groups to cease all forms of violence.
Meanwhile, the U.N. mission in Congo paid homage on Monday in Goma to the soldiers killed amid demonstrations last week in Goma, Butembo and other places in eastern Congo. The head of the U.N. Congo mission Bintou Keita, as well as Jean-Pierre Lacroix, U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, attended the ceremony.
The federal government sent a delegation to Goma over the weekend to visit the U.N. facilities and meet with the protesters to find a solution to the crisis.
Associated Press videojournalist Justin Kabumba in Goma, Congo, contributed to this report.
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