DR Congo army accused of church massacre

By agencies September 01, 2023 5304

A platform of youth organizations in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo accused the army on Thursday of committing a massacre in a church in North Kivu province.

The Collective of Youth Solidarity Organizations in Congo-Kinshasa DRC (COJESKI-RDC) said soldiers opened fire on people inside a church in the city of Goma on Wednesday.

Local and international media have put the death toll at 48 with 75 wounded in what they referred to as a crackdown on an anti-UN protest.

COJESKI-RDC’s director, Lucas Pecos, told Anadolu that those massacred belong to an organization called Wazalendo, which means “patriots” and a religion called Messiahans.

He said they planned to demonstrate against the presence of troops from the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and the East African Community in DR Congo.

“They assembled in their church in Goma not far from a MONUSCO base around 4 a.m. on Wednesday. They were making plans to attack MONUSCO offices when soldiers entered the church and shot at them, killing 13 instantly.”

Pecos said the rest died either on the way to or at hospitals.

He said it was not necessary to open fire on defenseless people.

“They were not found in the act of attacking MONOSCO, so there was no need to kill them,” he added.

He said they are asking the army and the government to account for the dead.

MONUSCO was in 2010 brought in to keep peace in restive eastern DR Congo, which is infested with rebels and militiamen, but have come under sharp criticism because many local people believe that the peacekeepers have failed to prevent conflict.

Last year, more than 10 people were killed in anti-UN protests across eastern Congo, including four peacekeepers.