Goma – Protesters stormed a United Nations base in the eastern Congolese city of Goma on Monday, an AFP journalist said, demanding the departure of peacekeepers from the region.
Hundreds of people blocked roads and chanted anti-UN slogans before storming the headquarters of the UN peacekeeping mission in Goma, as well as a logistical base on the outskirts of the city.
The protesters smashed windows and looted computers, furniture and other valuables from the headquarters, an AFP journalist witnessed, while UN police officers fired tear gas in a bid to push them back.
At the logistics base, a student was shot in the leg, the AFP journalist added.
Injuries reported after DR Congo protesters storm UN base in Goma, North Kivu region, and set fires on premises; tear gas fired to disperse protesters pic.twitter.com/mmSecdaz11
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The UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, known as MONUSCO, has come under regular local criticism for its perceived inability to stop fighting in the conflict-torn east.
Over 120 armed groups roam the volatile region, where conflict has displaced millions of people and civilian massacres are common.
Ahead of Monday’s protest, the Goma youth branch of the ruling UDPS party released a statement demanding MONUSCO “withdraw from Congolese soil without conditions because it has already proved its incapacity to provide us with protection”.
Khassim Diagne, the deputy special representative of the UN secretary general to MONUSCO, told AFP that the UN is not opposed to protests but that violence is unacceptable.
“These are looters,” he said. “We condemn them in the strongest terms”.
The latest protest comes after the president of the Congolese senate, Modeste Bahati, told supporters in Goma on July 15 that MONUSCO should “pack its bags”.
Picture: Getty Images