Gunshots heard at police crackdown on DR Congo student demo

Gunshots heard at police crackdown on DR Congo student demo
A demonstrator holds stones in his hands as he participates in a protest in the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa January 20, 2015. Protests erupted for a second day in Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday over proposed changes to an election law that could delay a vote due in 2016 and allow President Joseph Kabila to stay in power.

KINSHASA - Gunshots were heard Wednesday as police cracked down on a new student demonstration at Kinshasa's university following two days of bloody violence in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, an AFP reporter said.

Twenty eight people have been killed since Monday in anti-government protests, according to a local human rights organisation. The authorities put the death toll at five.

Protesters oppose a draft law that would enable President Joseph Kabila to extend his stay in power beyond his current mandate which ends in 2016.

Two shots rang out as dozens of students shouting "Kabila get out!" faced off against a small group of police officers. In the Ndjili neighbourhood, youths destroyed a police vehicle.

"This morning we're working all out again because there is a students' protest" at the university, police spokesman Israel Mutumbo said. "We are in the process of checking across the city because there are little groups (of possible demonstrators) forming." On Tuesday, hundreds of youths torched a town hall in Ngaba, a southern neighbourhood of Kinshasa, while several prisoners escaped from a neighbouring building. Looters also made off with police guns stored at the site.

The army and police arrested at least 20 people as protesters hurled rocks at state buildings, public buses and even passing cars. Soldiers fired in the air to scare off looters who targeted a Chinese-owned store.

In Brussels, opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi urged the Congolese people to force a "dying regime" from power.

Tshisekedi, 82, who is recovering from illness in Belgium, has been in opposition since the 1960s, previously taking on the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko as well as Kabila's father Laurent-Desire Kabila.

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