Several deaths, opposition buildings torched in DRC

ROCKY ROAD: Angry demonstrators block roads in the DRC. Picture: AFP
ROCKY ROAD: Angry demonstrators block roads in the DRC. Picture: AFP

Several people died in a second day of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with three opposition head quarter buildings torched in fresh clashes between police and opponents of President Joseph Kabila.

The violence erupted after a bloody day on Monday, in which opposition groups said more than 50 people had died in protests calling for Kabila’s resignation.

The national secretary of the main opposition group blamed a commando unit from the regime for torching the offices of the opposition.

“Does a normal state respond with reprisals? ” Felix Tshisekedi, of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), said.

“We are facing a rogue state,” he said.

At least two burnt bodies could be seen in the fire-ravaged building of the UDPS.

Two others had been burnt alive and another injured, journalists said.

Fire was still raging at the building when a tearful woman in her 40s said that her husband had been there when unidentified assailants attacked the building.

“I’ve just put my husband’s body in the morgue. He was killed in the clashes,” she said.

Flames were dying down at the other two opposition buildings – belonging to the Forces of Union and Solidarity (Fonus) and the Lumumbist Progressive Movement (MLP) – in the north of the capital Kinshasa.

A Fonus member said armed men in civilian clothes had arrived at the office in a jeep, sprayed petrol and set the building on fire.

Jose Maria Arnaz, the director of the Joint Office of the United Nations for Human Rights in the DRC, inspected the UDPS office to probe the fire.

“We are seeing what we can do to reduce the political tensions and bring those responsible for deaths to justice,” Arnaz said.

Residents reported several clashes between the police and youths in other districts of the teeming city. Monday’s violence started before an opposition rally by demonstrators who fear Kabila – who has ruled the DRC since 2001 – is planning to extend his rule unconstitutionally.

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