The Democratic Republic of the Congo says at least three dozen people were killed during recent demonstrations against a United Nations peacekeeping mission in the troubled east of the country.
In a statement released on Tuesday, government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said that at least 36 people, including four UN peacekeepers, had been killed and nearly 170 others wounded during the demonstrations.
The latest toll marks an increase from an earlier figure of 19 fatalities.
A series of deadly demonstrations demanding the departure of the UN peacekeeping mission, known as MONUSCO, erupted across several towns in the eastern DR Congo last week. The angry protesters accused the mission of failing to protect them from militia violence.
The UN peacekeeping mission has come under regular local criticism for its perceived inability to stop decades of militia violence in the conflict-torn east of the country.
Over 120 armed groups operate in the troubled region, where civilian massacres are common and conflict has displaced millions of people.
In the most recent instance of violence, at least three people were killed after UN peacekeepers opened fire during an incident in the DR Congo's eastern region on the Uganda border on Sunday.
Muyaya, the government spokesman, said that Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi had voiced to UN chief Antonio Guterres his "total disapproval" of the peacekeepers' behavior at the border post and urged that the culprits be "severely punished."
Guterres had said earlier that he had been "outraged" by the deadly incident and demanded "accountability."
MONUSCO took over from an earlier UN force in the DR Congo in 2010 with the aim of protecting civilians and supporting the government. The UN mission, which has around 12,400 troops in the DR Congo, and racks up a bill of $1 billion annually, has been in the process of gradually withdrawing from the country for several years, but that hasn't happened due to recurrent violence.
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