The shots rang in the city of Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo, on Monday, when protesters demanding the United Nations withdrawal from the city marched back to the UN headquarters.
Security forces blocked hundreds of protesters trying to approach the UN complex located inside the airport near Beni, one of the two UN bases in the area.
"We still have strong shots here and local sources are confirming the death of two people, including a boy and a woman," said Alain Uaykani of Al Jazeera, reporting from Beni, citing hospital officials where the bodies were taken.
"They say they don't feel safe and that the UN has to leave. They say they won't stop protesting until the UN leaves this area," said Uaykani.
Anger broke out last week over the apparent failure of the UN peacekeeping forces to protect civilians from deadly rebel attacks with several mass demonstrations aimed at United Nations facilities in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo ( DRC).
DR Congo: rebel attacks and protests against the UN
On Friday, at least 19 people were killed by attackers believed to come from the dreaded Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an armed group operating in the dense forests bordering Uganda. Many of the victims were pirated to death or beheaded, according to local rights groups.
Eight Beni residents were killed at the end of November 24 by alleged ADF fighters, which caused angry protesters to take to the streets.
Last Monday, four people died in clashes with security forces after angry protesters set fire to the mayor's office and attacked several UN buildings in Beni.
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Christof Vogel, a researcher at the University of Ken, Brussels and a former UN expert in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said the situation was extremely worrying about the deadly attacks that began in 2014 and the ongoing Ebola outbreak.
"There is a mismatch between the UN mandate and reality on the ground," Vogel told Al Jazeera.
"We also need to see that the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a huge country and we still have less than 20,000 peacekeepers, most of them with a very narrow mandate. That partly explains the failure to better protect civilians." .
Protesters accuse both the DRC security forces and MONUSCO, one of the largest peace missions in the world that has operated in DR Congo over the past two decades, of not doing enough to stop the attacks. rebels against civilians.
"While the army is doing everything possible to neutralize the ADF rebellion, the rebels are taking advantage of defenseless civilians by way of revenge," said Donat Kibwana, administrator of Beni's territory, on Sunday.
Many of the victims have been pirated to death or beheaded, according to local rights and civil society groups.
The volatile east of the DRC is home to many armed groups, including the ADF, that compete for control of the region rich in minerals.
Almost a month ago, the DRC armed forces announced that they had launched an offensive to end the armed groups in the east of the DRC.
Since then, dozens of civilians in the region have been killed, according to authorities. During previous military operations against the ADF, their fighters retaliated by attacking civilians, local activists say.
Violence in the region is hampering efforts to stop the spread of the Ebola virus, which has killed 2,200 people since August 2018.
International organizations warned on Friday of a possible resurgence of the virus after the deadly attacks by militias against health centers forced aid groups to suspend operations and remove personnel from the last bastions of the epidemic.