The UN staff was forced to evacuate after the mob stormed the headquarters and logistics center of the MONUSCO mission in the eastern Congolese city of Goma, killing three UN peacekeepers.
The UN MONUSCO mission was originally established in 1999 to help Congo recover from a war that involved a number of non-state militias as well as Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Angola, Chad, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.
As of November 2021, MONUSCO had more than 12,000 troops and 1,600 police deployed and have been gradually withdrawing for years.
During the riots, seven demonstrators were killed and at least 50 more people were injured, the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo said on Tuesday, adding that a civilian was fatally shot outside the UN logistic base.
In order to stop the attacks on UN troops and staff, according to government spokesman Patrick Muyaya, the security forces had fired warning shots at the hostile crowd that has surrounded the peacekeepers’ base in Goma, chanting slogans before storming the premises.
The crowd managed to smash windows, loot the compound, and burn the entrance gate despite the UN security personnel’s efforts to disperse them by firing teargas while helicopters airlifted the staff from the base.
Organized by a faction linked to President Felix Tshisekedi’s ruling UDPS party, the protestors accused the peacekeepers of failing to protect civilians and demanded the mission’s departure.
They accused MONUSCO of leaving citizens vulnerable to ongoing attacks by the Rwandan-backed March 23 militia, one of more than 100 armed groups operating in the North Kivu province of eastern Congo, which has seen a resurgence of fighting in recent months.
Underscoring that any attack directed against UN peacekeepers may constitute a war crime, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the violence and called upon the Congolese authorities to swiftly bring those responsible for these incidents to justice.
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