Tear gas on one side and stones throwed on the other: protesters and security forces faced off on Thursday in Goma. 

Thursday was a particularly tense day in the city of Goma, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Thousands of protesters angry with President Laurent-Désiré Kabila clashed with security forces.

Protests had already taken place on Tuesday and Wednesday, but Thursday’s protests were much larger, catching the police off-guard. According to journalists in Goma, at least three protesters died on Thursday. This has not yet been confirmed by the local authorities.

Our Observers there have managed to send us a few videos filmed during Thursday’s protests, in which you can see protesters and security forces facing off – one side throwing stones, the other hurling tear gas. Some protesters also attacked stores.

According to our Observers, the protesters had various demands. Many of them were angry because the authorities had cut off Internet access for two days. Others were protesting Tuesday’s arrest of local university professors who are said to have been close to the opposition.

All photos posted on the blog Actudukivu.

Midway through the morning, soldiers were deployed to assist the local police. According to one of our Observers, “protesters wanted to attack the police, but not the soldiers, since soldiers are very popular here in Goma since their victory against the M23 rebels in 2013.”

Police arrested several protesters. 

Several Observers also told us that residents in the east of Goma crossed the border with Rwanda to find refuge in Gisenyi and Rubavu, two nearby towns.

Goma residents heading to neigbhourhing Rwanda to flee the clashes. Photo published on Twitter.

What set off clashes in Goma and the capital Kinshasa over the last few days is a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow President Kabila to stay in power after the end of his term in 2016, which was supposed to be his last. On Thursday, the head of the senate postponed voting on this amendment until Friday morning.

Goma’s mayor has announced that all schools would close their doors until Monday, hoping that “the situation will by then have returned to normal.” Thursday evening, clashes continued in the neighbourhoods of Mabanga and Ndosho, in the city’s north and west.

Protesters attacked several stores. Here, a smashed bakery window.