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Catholic Church condemns DR Congo's 'barbaric' crackdown; death toll hits 12


AFP
Kinshasa
The death toll from a crackdown on New Year's Eve demonstrations in Democratic Republic of Congo rose to 12, protestors said on Tuesday, as the country's powerful Catholic Church condemned what it called"barbarism" and the UN and France sounded their concern.
"Eleven people died in Kinshasa and one in Kananga," Jonas Tshombela, a spokesman for the protest organisers, told AFP.
Catholic and opposition groups on Sunday defied a ban on demonstrations demanding that President Joseph Kabila, in power since the assassination of his father in 2001, leave office.
They were met with a deadly crackdown by authorities, who fired tear gas into churches and bullets in the air to break up gatherings.
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. The protests took place on the first anniversary of a Church-brokered deal under which Kabila was scheduled to leave office in 2017 after fresh elections.
The poll has since been postponed until December 2018. Western powers have accepted the delay with reluctance, hoping it will avoid bloodshed and encourage stability in this vast and volatile central African country.

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