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‘50 killed in clashes in Congo capital’

‘50 killed in clashes in Congo capital’
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More than 50 people were killed in clashes between protesters and security forces in Congolese capital Kinshasa, opposition groups said, calling for further anti-government demonstrations.

The government had earlier said that at least 17 had died in the violence in Kinshasa, ahead of a planned opposition rally, but had warned that the death toll could rise.

"The coalition (of opposition groups) deplores the number of victims, more than 50 dead at this point, victims of the firing of real bullets by the police and the republican guard," it said in a statement on Monday. It also called on people to gather on Tuesday "to keep up without hesitation the demands made today." 

The rally, which the authorities cancelled, had been called to demand the resignation of President Joseph Kabila, who has been in power since 2001. Opponents fear that he is planning to extend his rule unconstitutionally.

The clashes on Monday were the worst violence in the capital since January 2015, when a police crackdown on another opposition protest left dozens dead. Interior Minister Evariste Boshab described the violence as an attempted "uprising" and said the victims included three police officers. 

The main opposition parties had called for a nationwide demonstration to "give notice" to Kabila, whose mandate expires on December 20.

Although Kabila is banned by the constitution from running again, he has not made any move to schedule elections, fuelling fears he will seek to extend his stay in office.
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