UN demands 'independent' probe after nearly 50 killed in DR Congo crackdown on rally

© - / AFP

The United Nations on Friday demanded an "independent" probe after dozens of people were killed in a crackdown on an anti-UN protest in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

"There needs to be an investigation... and the perpetrators need to be brought to justice," UN rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva.

The UN is in touch with the DRC authorities to ensure a probe they have opened "is independent, effective, and that measures are put in place to ensure that future demonstrations are policed in line with international human rights standards," she said.

Soldiers on Wednesday stopped a religious sect from holding a demonstration against UN peacekeepers in Goma.

According to an assessment by the rights office, at least 43 people were killed, including a policeman, and 56 injured, Shamdasani said, adding that the toll may be higher.

An internal army document consulted by AFP on Thursday, and verified by security officials, gave a death toll of 48, in addition to the slain policeman, and 75 people wounded.

The document also said soldiers arrested 168 people, including the leader of the sect, a Christian-animist group named the "Natural Judaic and Messianic Faith Towards the Nations."

Shamdasani said at least 222 people were reportedly arrested, including women and children, and warned "the risk of human rights violations in such a charged context is high".

Read more on FRANCE 24 English

Read also:
Guterres says attack on UN in Congo may be war crime, asks for investigation
UN alarmed over surge in violence in eastern DR Congo
UN Security Council team arrives in DR Congo as violence erupts in east