Nearly 100 people died and 30 others were wounded this week in clashes that erupted when demonstrators protesting alleged electoral fraud rampaged through several towns and security forces tried to restore order, rights groups and humanitarian organizations said.
Dolly Ibefo of the rights group Voice for the Voiceless said on Friday the deaths -- mostly demonstrators shot by police or soldiers -- had occurred since Monday in several towns in southwestern Bas Congo Province.
The area was reported quiet on Friday.
The protests were led by Bundu Dia Kongo, a group that supports former warlord-turned-senator Jean-Pierre Bemba. On Friday evening, Bemba issued a statement condemning the killing of protesters by police.
"It constitutes an abuse of power," he said in the statement broadcast on local TV.
Violence spread to at least five towns in Bas Congo, including Matadi, Boma, Kasangulu, Kinzaomvwete and Moanda.
Ibefo said the rights group's assessment was based on witness testimony and local rights officials in the troubled southwest province.
He said more than a third of the casualties had occurred in Moanda and the dead included several soldiers and police officers.
Willy Iboma, who heads the local Foundation for the Defense of Children's Rights, said demonstrators in Moanda had rampaged through the town's streets, setting ablaze a police post and several government buildings, prompting security forces to intervene.
Authorities ordered soldiers from nearby Kitona to the area to help restore order and the soldiers had used automatic weapons and rockets.
"Until now, bodies are still being gathered from the streets and the bush" in Moanda after violence reached its peak there on Thursday, Iboma said by telephone from the town.
A spokesman for the UN peacekeeping force in the Congo, Kemal Saiki, said the UN had not obtained any official toll.
The bulk of the UN's 18,000 peacekeepers are deployed on the other side of the country, which is wracked by sporadic fighting involving militias and renegade army units.
Speaking by telephone from Kinshasa, the head of Bundu Dia Kongo, Ne Mwanda Ne Semi, described the events in Bas Congo as "a peaceful protest that was bloodily repressed by police and soldiers."
"The whole of Bas Congo is rising up against corruption that has infected all the elections and especially the election of senators and governors," Semi said.
Gubernatorial elections took place last weekend and the legislative vote was held a week before that.
Local radio stations said on Thursday that shops and street stalls were shuttered in the affected towns and residents had taken cover as protesters barricaded streets with the shells of destroyed cars.
Bemba, a former warlord who once controlled a vast territory in northern Congo and became vice president in a power-sharing deal that ended the country's 1998 to 2002 war and re-united the country, won a senatorial seat last month.
Bemba's militia clashed with President Joseph Kabila's forces twice last year, as results were announced in the initial presidential vote and the runoff that marked Congo's first free elections for a head of state since wresting independence from Belgium in 1960.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and