The UN’s chief of peace operations visited the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday, where rebel attacks have killed dozens in recent days and anti-MONUSCO protests continue.
Under-Secretary-General Jean-Pierre Lacroix was in Beni, where riots targeted peacekeepers on Monday. The protestors accuse the troops of failing to stop civilian massacres by militia fighters.
A tense atmosphere remains in and around Beni. On Saturday, a mob lynched two people suspected of being Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels.
“They did not have identity cards and when we searched their luggage, we found ammunition, military uniforms and magazines,” a witness, Fabrice Muhindo, told AFP.
The Congolese military said the victims were an army sergeant and his wife. Another soldier was killed in Oicha, north of Beni by civilians who mistook him for an ADF fighter on Friday.
“We are on your side”
Lacroix met briefly with the head of the Congolese army. He pleaded for cooperation from civilians as he toured a base that was overrun by protestors.
“We are on the side of the people of this region, the Congolese people,” Lacroix said.
MONUSCO, one of the biggest UN peacekeeping operations in the world, today comprises more than 16,500 military personnel and observers, 1,300 police and at least 4,000 civilians.
Reacting to accusations of inaction, the force said its troops cannot deploy without Kinshasa’s permission or coordination with the national army.
Spike in rebel violence
At least seven people have been killed in anti-UN violence this week.
Another 27 people were hacked to death by suspected ADF rebels on Wednesday. Three Ebola responders were also killed this week in Biakoto, near Beni in an attack blamed on the Mai Mai militia.
At least 107 people have been killed in rebel attacks in the Beni area in November.
The attacks have caused huge civilian uproar.
An army offensive to defeat the ADF rebels which started in October has only registered minimal success.
The ADF are a Ugandan rebel group which fled into eastern DR Congo after being defeated by Kampala and has since adopted an Islamic identity.
africanews and agencies