No fewer than three persons died during a protest by hundreds of demonstrators in the Democratic Republic of Congo capital against the coronavirus lockdown closure of the city’s main market, officials and witnesses have said.
Police fired warning shots to disperse the protesters, who gathered at the site on Tuesday to demand the reopening of the Kinshasa market.
Demonstrators claimed at least one person was killed by gunfire.
A spokesman for the Kinshasa provincial government said two people were electrocuted while another was crushed to death by the fleeing crowd after “trouble by people pretending to be trade unionists” from the market.
“We deplore the deaths of three people,” the spokesman, Charles Mbuta Muntu, said following a meeting to discuss the unrest.
“Those responsible for these riots have been arrested” for having violated state of emergency measures imposed to combat the virus.
Demonstrators had stood their ground behind barriers that have since early April cut off the Gombe area housing the market as part of the fight against the spread of the coronavirus.
The protesters hurled insults at the Kinshasa governor, Gentiny Ngobila, calling him a “thief.”
A governorate spokesperson, Belise Okonda, denied rumours the market was being knocked down.