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Sat Oct 01 20:59:25 SAST 2016

Armed men torch Congo opposition HQ after deadly protests - witnesses

REUTERS | 20 September, 2016 12:36
Demonstrators gather in front of a burning car during an opposition rally in Kinshasa on September 19, 2016. Police fired tear gas at scores of opposition supporters rallying in Kinshasa to demand that DR Congo's long-serving President Joseph Kabila step down this year. File photo
Image by: AFP PHOTO / EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP

Armed men set fire to the headquarters of one of Democratic Republic of Congo's main opposition parties early on Tuesday, a day after violent protests, the organisation said, leaving at least two people dead inside.

The uniformed attackers struck the morning after security forces had clashed with party members and other opposition activists protesting against what they say is a bid by President Joseph Kabila to extend his rule over Africa's top copper producer.

2016-09-19T145204Z_01_GGGAFR117_RTRIDSP_3_CONGO-POLITICS-19-09-2016-16-09-55-971.jpg

Congolese opposition supporters chant slogans during a march to press President Joseph Kabila to step down in the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa, September 19, 2016. 

Two charred bodies could be seen inside the offices of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) in Kinshasa on Tuesday, next to empty gasoline cans strewn across the floor, a Reuters witness said.

"We were sleeping when men came and forced in the door ... I saw men in military uniform," said Jean Toumba, a UDPS member who had been sleeping in the building.

"They threw petrol and set fire to the office. I ran out to hide," he told Reuters. The armed men burst in to the office in the capital's Limete neighbourhood at around 3 a.m. (0200 GMT), he added.

Witnesses had initially said three bodies were inside the building. However one was found to be alive, though he was badly burnt. Another person was also injured in the fire.

2016-07-31T182021Z_01_GGGAFR204_RTRIDSP_3_CONGO-POLITICS-31-07-2016-20-07-17-373.jpg

The UDPS is led by Etienne Tshisekedi, an opposition stalwart who lost against Kabila in a 2011 presidential run-off.

The party is one of the main political groupings calling for Kabila to step down when his term expires in December

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