Goma riot after killing by Zaire troops

RIOTS broke out yesterday following the killing early in the morning of a young Zairean man by pillaging members of President Mobutu Sese Seko's elite presidential guard. The demonstrators were quickly dispersed by soldiers firing into the air.

Later, some 2,000 mourners, many in trucks commandeered from international aid agencies, joined a funeral procession to a local cemetery, where Jumaine Mokili, 22, was buried after a eulogy by his brother.

The rioting surprised foreign observers, who had predicted that the presence in eastern Zaire of as many as 1 million Rwandan refugees - not President Mobutu's own troops - would eventually trigger unrest among local Zaireans, whose nerves are frayed to breaking point by the humanitarian crisis engulfing the region.

The slaying and subsequent demonstration also represents an embarrassment for President Mobutu, who has been eager to assist the international aid effort here, hoping it will help him to rehabilitate his tattered image abroad, where he is mostly viewed as a corrupt despot.

According to a member of the Zairean national guard who requested anonymity, Mokili, one of the prominent money-changers who conduct business on the main street of this Zairean border town, was shot dead early yesterday morning after soldiers entered his home and attempted to rob him.

An hour later, several hundred mostly young demonstrators, chanting 'Go back to Kinshasa]', bore Mokili's bloody body through the streets on a stretcher, stopping at the home of the local governor to hurl epithets and at a military compound to hurl rocks.

When the swelling crowds began littering the streets, hurling stones and ripping up pavements to erect road blocks, Zairean soldiers, ignoring the orders of their commanding officers, fired warning shots from their Russian-made AK-47s and the crowds fled.

In mid-July, when Rwandan refugees were flooding into Zaire, President Mobutu, who has ruled for 26 years, deployed some 400 choice presidential guards and paratroopers to Goma to help local troops maintain order.

But these forces are viewed by local residents, and even by locally-based Zairean soldiers, as a virtual occupying army. Loyalties in the government and military of Zaire are almost entirely local.

And, doing nothing to alter their widespread reputation for brutality and venality, these soldiers nightly go from door to door to harass and plunder. 'They steal money, televisions, and anything they can get their hands on,' said a 39-year-old construction engineer. 'They've finished robbing Rwandan soldiers and refugees so now they've turned to us.'

BUJUMBURA - At least seven people were wounded, one seriously, in Burundi's capital, Bujumbura, yesterday when a grenade was hurled into the main market, raising fears that the country will follow Rwanda into ethnic conflict, Reuter reports.

The attack took place at noon despite a heavy military presence on the streets to quell ethnic unrest and strikes. It was not known who threw the grenade.

Witnesses said the explosion blew holes in the market's roof and there were pools of blood on the floor among the wooden stalls. The incident further raised an already charged political atmosphere. The army quickly moved to head off further attacks and sealed off a northern surburb of Ngagara, a mainly Tutsi neighbourhood where armed opposition militants roam.

The mainly Tutsi army cordoned off Burundi's university in the capital after reports that students were planning demonstrations in support of the detained opposition leader, Mathias Hitimana. He heads the Tutsi-led Party for the Reconciliation of the People. His arrest on Sunday sparked clashes by his followers and brought Bujumbura to a standstill on Monday and Tuesday. Up to 15 people were killed.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back