Displaced families pass rebels north of the eastern Congolese city of Goma. File Picture: REUTERS
Displaced families pass rebels north of the eastern Congolese city of Goma. File Picture: REUTERS

Goma — Bandits shot dead six people in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo overnight, sparking angry protests by residents who blockaded the main street running through Goma city on Sunday, officials said.

“We have just recovered the bodies of five civilians and a soldier who were killed” during an overnight gun battle, the city's deputy prosecutor Claver Kahasa said.

"Armed bandits came into Goma to the Ndosho neighbourhood and have left the town bereaved by shooting dead five civilians,” said city mayor Timothee Muissa Kiense.

Since the start of the year at least 25 people have been killed in a string of shootings in Goma by unidentified gunmen, often referred to as bandits.

“The population is very clearly angry, there is a lot of tension,” said the mayor, whose city is the capital of North Kivu province and home to  1-million people.

Residents furious at the ongoing violence ravaging the country’s east blocked off the main road leading to the western Ndosho district, halting traffic, an AFP correspondent said.

For Marrion Ngavho, a local civil society leader, the gunmen were “enemies of peace”.

“Five civilians killed, it’s just too much. If the authorities are not able to keep us safe, then they should resign,” he said.

The incident occurred just hours after a group of newly-elected regional MPs met with local officials, the police and the army to discuss the growing insecurity in the city.

“It is unacceptable that they can continue to kill people like that in Goma,” MP Jean-Paul Lumbulumbu, who was leading a group of legislators, said .

North Kivu, which borders Uganda and Rwanda, has been gripped by violence for decades, with numerous militia groups and armed gangs roaming the province and fighting for control of territorial and natural resources.

AFP