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Multiple deaths in anti-government protests in Congo-Kinshasa

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Congolese opposition supporters chant slogans during a march to press President Joseph Kabila to step down in the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa, September 19, 2016. (Photos by Reuters)

The Democratic Republic of Congo has prohibited all anti-government protests following the latest bout of violence that resulted in multiple deaths in the capital.

The opposition says more than 50 people lost their lives in the violence, but the government has put the death toll at 17.

The fighting broke out in Kinshasa on Monday as thousands of opposition party supporters marched against DR Congo’s President Joseph Kabila and his bid to extend his term.

The protests came amid increasing local and international pressure on Kabila to step down when his mandate ends in December.  Opposition parties claim that he will attempt to extend his term by pushing back the elections.

The protesters ripped down Kabila’s posters while chanting, "it's over for you" and "we don't want you.”

Following the deadly clashes, the government banned gatherings against the president, accusing the opposition of “targeted looting.”

Earlier, Interior Minister Evariste Boshab referred to the protests as an "uprising." He also said that three police officers were among the dead.

Congolese policemen take a break at a motorcycle taxi park as opposition activists march to press President Joseph Kabila to step down in the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa, September 19, 2016. 

"By midday (1100 GMT), the sad and painful provisional toll from these barbaric and savage acts... (stood at) 17 dead, among them three police officers, one of whom was burnt alive, and 14 civilians who were involved in looting," he said.

Human Rights Watch senior researcher Ida Sawyer noted that the Monday clashes were similar to those of last year, when dozens of people died.

“Today's march shows that the security forces have not switched their tactics and are still clamping down on anyone opposed to Kabila,” she said. “People want their constitution to be respected and are willing to risk their lives to make sure that happens."

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