In DR Congo : Internet restored after deadly protests

Demonstrators in Kinshasa protesting at President Kabila’s refusal to step down

In contrast to the toll given by the protestors, the United Nations said in a statement that "at least five people" were killed, several wounded and more than 120 arrested.

He also seemed to deliver a warning to protesters, urging people to remain "alert" in order to "bar the road to those who [have sought to] use elections as a pretext in recent years, and who today would be tempted to use violence, to stop the ongoing Democratic process and plunge the country into the abyss".

An AFP reporter at a demonstration in the central city of Kananga saw a man shot in the chest by soldiers who opened fire on worshippers gathered for what church leaders said would be a peaceful protest.

The protests took place on the first anniversary of a deal under which Kabila was scheduled to leave office in 2017 after fresh elections, a vote that has since been postponed until December 2018.

That agreement - facilitated by Conférence Episcopale Nationale du Congo (CENCO) mediators, and reached in Kinshasa on 31 December 2016 - allowed President Joseph Kabila to stay in power beyond the end of his term and has stipulated that peaceful, credible and inclusive elections would be organised in DRC by the end of December 2017.

"We can only denounce, condemn and stigmatise the behaviour of our supposedly courageous men in uniform, who, sadly, and no more or less, are channelling barbarism", he said.

In Kinshasa, AFP counted about 10 people hurt, including a priest with an injury to the face and a woman in her sixties with a gash on her forehead, after police broke up church gatherings.

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At another church in the working-class district of Barumbu, a few dozen police officers used teargas and stun grenades against some 300 churchgoers, who waved bibles and sang religious songs as they tried to march, a Reuters witness said.

Three people were killed in altercations with security forces in the capital, Kinshasa, police spokesman Pierrot Mwanamputu said. "We have to turn out in droves in the face of these mercenaries", he said, referring to the security forces.

Other protesters went back inside the church grounds and started singing for the Virgin Mary to "make Kabila go".

Kabila, whose home in the eastern Kivuwas recently burnt down by militia, is clinging to power despite his term expiring at the end of 2016.

The country has not had a peaceful transition of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende earlier alleged that "weapons of war have been distributed" by opponents of the government.

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