Congolese security forces on Wednesday dispersed hundreds of protesters using tear gas and firing warning shots in Beni, a town in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The police charged at the demonstrators who were marching on a route towards the main town of Beni. They were protesting government inaction against the violence affecting the region as they mourned dozens of civilians killed by Ugandan rebels over the weekend.
A three-day mourning period was declared on Monday, the protests thus coincided with the end of the period. The demonstrators had tied their heads with tattooed fabrics with the inscription “Amani” (peace in Swahili), to end 3 days of national mourning.
At least six demonstrators were arrested and taken away by the security forces, AFP reports.
Flags of the ruling party, the People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD) and an effigy of President Joseph Kabila were burned at the main market of Beni. Beni territory and surrounding areas are plagued by a series of massacres reported to have killed over 650 people since October 2014.
The last major massacre saw 51 civilians killed over the weekend in the northern districts of Beni, on the edge of the Virunga Park. The attacks were carried out by Ugandan rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), according to a report from the civil society of Beni.
On Tuesday, the Congolese Prime Minister Augustin Matata was booed by the crowd who called for his resignation, accusing the authorities of failing to protect the population against rampaging attacks.
The Congolese government and the UN Mission in the DRC,MONUSCO attribute these killings to the rebels of the ADF.
READ MORE: UN urges DRC to investigate Beni massacre