Roughly 48 individuals have lost their lives during a crackdown on a protest opposing the United Nations in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), as indicated by local sources and official records reviewed by AFP on Thursday. The incident occurred on Wednesday when Congolese troops took action against a religious group that was organizing a demonstration against UN peacekeepers in Goma, a city in DR Congo.

Initially, reports cited around ten casualties, including the killing of a police officer by members of the religious sect. However, an internal military document examined by AFP and authenticated by security authorities disclosed a higher toll of 48 fatalities from the crackdown, in addition to the slain police officer, and around 75 people injured.

The document also revealed that soldiers confiscated various bladed weapons and apprehended 168 individuals, including the leader of the religious sect. The LUCHA, a Congolese pro-democracy activist group, also asserted on Thursday that the count of protesters killed was “close to 50.”

A couple of unverified video clips circulated on social media on Thursday, purportedly showing Congolese soldiers placing lifeless bodies, some covered in blood, into a military vehicle.

Over the past thirty years, the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo has been plagued by militia violence, a lasting consequence of regional conflicts that erupted during the 1990s and 2000s. The UN’s peacekeeping mission in the area is among the largest and most expensive globally, with an annual budget of approximately $1 billion (equivalent to 915 million euros).

However, the United Nations receives severe criticism within the central African nation, where many individuals view the peacekeepers as ineffective in preventing conflicts.

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