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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there