Eastern massacres fuel anger against Kabila
From JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – FAILURE to investigate massacres of some 700 civilians in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have fuelled popular anger against President Joseph Kabila.
He is already facing outrage over delays in the holding of elections.
Research by rights groups indicates armed fighters have killed the civilians in at least 120 attacks in Beni territory since October 2014.
Victims and witnesses described brutality in which assailants hacked people to death with axes and machetes or shot them dead.
In a recent attack, fighters killed at least 40 people and set fire to homes in Rwangoma neighborhood in Beni despite a large presence of Congolese soldiers and United Nations peacekeepers.
While it is unclear who is behind the attacks, Kabila’s government blames armed groups. Other sources have implicated army officers in some attacks.
The frequent massacres in Beni have incurred the wrath of locals livid at the failure by government to stop the killings, prompting numerous city-wide shutdowns or “villes mortes” (dead cities), peaceful marches and incidents of vigilante violence in the east.
Protests have in some cases been linked to demonstrations against election delays and attempts to extend Kabila’s presidency beyond the end of his constitutionally mandated two-term limit, which ends on December 19.
Government and security forces have responded to protests with brutal repression.
Ida Sawyer, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch, said with DRC embroiled in a broader political crisis, the government is less capable of keeping the attacks in Beni spiraling out of control.
“Sustained, high-level international attention is needed now to help end the killings in Beni and to identify and bring to justice those responsible for the attacks.”
– CAJ News
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