Pro-independence Kantangese activists out on the streets of Lubumbashi on March 23, 2013, before the protest turned violent.
A group of pro-independence activists tried to march on Lubumbashi in the Katanga region, in southern Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday. The army quickly fought off the separatists, some of whom say they are Maï Maï fighters, in clashes that left several dozen dead.
Video from the march and the resulting violence, posted on congomikilinews, a YouTube channel.
The Maï Maï are community-based militia groups active in DR Congo who don’t necessarily coordinate with one another and frequently have different motivations. They are known for their rigid discipline and brutally practices (rape, torture, and the use of child soldiers).
According to our local Observers, between 100 and 200 of these separatists reached Lubumbashi in the late morning armed with Kalashnikovs and machetes. They arrived from Rwashi, to the east of Lubumbashi, where they had assembled.
On their way, the separatists encountered a police camp and tried to lower the Congolese flag and raise the Katangese flag in its place. A fight broke out between the separatists and the police, resulting in the deaths of several separatists. Undeterred, they continued on to the Katangese capital, where the Congolese army fought them back. Several separatist fighters were killed, as shown in the pictures taken by our Observers. The rebels finally took refuge in the offices of Monusco, the United Nations force in DR Congo, after surrendering their weapons. The UN officers then turned them over to the Katangese authorities, who transferred them on Sunday to the capital, Kinshasa. Their fate remains uncertain.
The Congolese army unleashed fatal force upon the separatists.
The Congolese army unleashed deadly force on the separatists.
The region of Katanga has been the scene of a separatist uprising for several decades. This conflict has intensified due to the decentralization process launched in 2006, which aims to give more responsibilities to the country’s eleven provinces. However, the reform has stalled and fallen out of favour with the separatists from the “Kata Katanga” (“Break Katanga”) movement, some of whom attempted to march on Lubumbashi last weekend. These rebels believe that Katanga, the economic powerhouse of the DR Congo, should benefit more from the country’s copper and cobalt wealth.
Separatists on Saturday, March 23 in Lubumbashi.
Children were among the separatists.