Beni – Unidentified gunmen killed four policemen in Butembo in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday, the army said, during a protest against insecurity in the troubled region.
The town’s military commander Colonel Mozebo E’pape said armed men had blended in with the crowd of protesters and then shot at policemen who were supervising the demonstration.
“The provisional toll is four policemen killed by these assailants,” he added.
Kivu Security Tracker, a respected monitor of violence in eastern DRC, said at least two police officers had been killed during unrest in Butembo.
AFP was unable to independently confirm the death toll.
“The situation is serious at the moment,” said Mathe Saanane, the head of a network of civil society groups in Butembo, adding that an unidentified armed group appeared to have infiltrated the town.
Residents had been protesting insecurity, in a demonstration that occurred two days after the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group freed over 800 inmates from a prison in Butembo.
ADF fighters had also killed two police officers during the attack on the prison on Wednesday.
Over 120 militias roam the DRC’s mineral-rich but volatile east, where attacks on civilians are routine.
The ADF — which the Islamic State group claims as its Central African offshoot — is among the most violent armed groups in the region.
It has been accused of massacring Congolese civilians as well as staging attacks in neighbouring Uganda.