Hundreds of protesters attacked a United Nations peacekeeping force’s warehouse and looted offices on Monday in Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, demanding that the mission leaves for failing to protect the population.
Protesters blocked roads in the city with rocks and pebbles, ransacked offices and carted off some materials and set fire to a gate of the mission’s compound, Reuters reporters said.
“One of our warehouses was attacked by protesters early this morning. They entered one of our bases and looted the equipment. They managed to enter a few offices, we are obviously appalled and shocked by this,” said a spokesperson for the peacekeeping mission in Congo, known as MONUSCO.
The mission said in a statement the attack took place a day after hostile remarks and threats made by individuals and groups against the United Nations.
“The incidents in Goma are not only unacceptable but totally counterproductive. MONUSCO is mandated by the Security Council to support the authorities in protecting civilians,” said acting head of mission, Khassim Diagne, in the statement.
“It is not in chaos and confusion or division that we will make progress towards stabilization and peace.”
The protest was called by a faction of the youth wing of President Felix Tshisekedi’s UDPS ruling party, which said in a statement that it was demanding the immediate withdrawal of the UN peacekeepers over what it described as their ineffectiveness.
Another faction of the youth wing, however, disavowed the protest.
The Congolese government was closely monitoring the situation, its spokesman said.
“The government strongly condemns any form of attack against United Nations personnel and facilities,” Patric Muyaya said on Twitter. “Those responsible will be prosecuted and severely punished.”
Tensions are high in the eastern region where resurgent clashes between Congo’s army and the M23 rebel group have displaced thousands. Attacks by militants linked to Islamic State also continue despite a year-long state of emergency and joint operations against them by the Congolese and Ugandan armies.
Separately, Human Rights Watch said in a report on Monday that the M23 rebel group had summarily killed at least 29 civilians since mid-June in areas under their control.