By James Tasamba
KIGALI, Rwanda (AA) - Four people were killed Monday in fresh protests against UN and Congolese forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to police.
Police fired warning shots to disperse a crowd as they marched toward a UN peacekeeping base in the town of Beni in North Kivu province.
The victims included three protestors and one police officer, police said.
Security forces were involved in running street battles with protestors for most of the day.
Protestors accuse UN peacekeeping force MONUSCO and government forces of failing to protect civilians from rebel attacks and are demanding MONUSCO's departure.
More than 100 civilians were killed in the Beni region last November in attacks blamed on Ugandan rebel group the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
Speaking at a press conference Monday in DR Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, UN Undersecretary General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix said the protestors should not be mistaken for the enemy.
“Let us make no mistake about the real enemy. There are so many shameful manipulative messages. This should not be tolerated. We must fight any form of misinformation. Those responsible for such confusion shall be held accountable,” he said.
“There are no simple solutions to the eastern DRC’s tragedy. In addition to efforts to restrict armed groups’ space, we must work with the population to improve their living conditions.”
The Congolese army said last Saturday it killed one of the top leaders of the ADF, Mouhamed Mukubwa, hours after rebels killed 13 civilians.
Mukubwa’s death came weeks after another senior commander of the group, Nasser Abdullayi Kikuku, was killed.
Lacroix arrived in Beni on Saturday, where he met with Congolese military forces and visited a MONUSCO base.
Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi last week announced joint operations between Congolese and UN forces in Beni following the protests.
Lacroix noted that the Congolese government partnership has been effective in many of DR Congo’s territories and there is no reason why it should fail in the east.