Over Anti The death toll from an army crackdown on anti-United Nations demonstrations in eastern Congo on Wednesday was at least 40 people, roughly six times higher than the seven victims initially reported, two military sources said, Thursday, August 31, 2023.
Congolese soldiers violently broke up a protest in the city of Goma against a UN peacekeeping mission and other foreign organizations after footage of an attack on a policeman circulated on social media. Reuters was unable to verify the recording.
Authorities said the policeman was stoned to death, and six protesters were killed when soldiers intervened.
But two military officers who spoke on condition of anonymity said hospitals had received tens of trucks since the protests, and put the death toll at above 40.
A source at the United Nations said they were investigating “credible” allegations of more than fifty deaths after soldiers blocked protesters, who had gathered at a church before the demonstration began.
Provincial military spokesman Guillaume Ndjike denied the reports and said the death toll remained at seven.
Unverified footage has been post on social media showing soldiers loading the bodies into trucks and driving them through Goma in convoys.
The head of the local branch of the International Red Cross in Goma, Anne-Sylvie Linder, said her clinic had received many patients with serious stab and gunshot wounds after the protests.
“Some were already dead when they arrived,” he said, without specifying the exact number.
The military governor of North Kivu province, Constant Ndima, said an investigation had open.
The UN peacekeeping mission in eastern Congo, known as MONUSCO, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The mission has faced protests since 2022 fueled in part by complaints that it has failed to protect civilians from decades of militia violence.
Anti-MONUSCO protests in July 2022 resulted in over 15 deaths, including three peacekeepers in Goma and the city of Butembo.