At least four civilians and a police officer were killed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday in clashes between security forces and protesters demanding the departure of President Joseph Kabila this year, Human Rights Watch said.
The national electoral commission announced this month that an election to replace Kabila, whose mandate expired last December, cannot take place until April 2019.
The delay has raised fears of an escalation of violence in Congo, which is Africa’s biggest copper producer.
Activist groups in the eastern city of Goma had called for a general strike on Monday to protest against the election delay.
Unrest broke out by 5 in the morning between police and protesters, who barricaded roads and burned tyres, local residents and the police said.
Security forces killed at least four civilians and one police officer also died in the clashes, said Ida Sawyer, central Africa director at New York-based Human Rights Watch.
A spokeswoman for the U.N. mission in Congo said it had documented 37 arrests but could not yet confirm a death toll.