Congo security forces fatally shoot 2 amid violent anti-govt protests

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Congolese security forces killed at least seven protesters and a policeman died amid violence as more than a thousand people demonstrated in the capital Kinshasa against President Joseph Kabila's refusal to step down from power.

Protesters are demanding that President Joseph Kabila publicly state he will not extend his power beyond a two-term constitutional limit.

Kabila was required by the constitution to step down in December previous year when his mandate expired but an election to replace him has been repeatedly delayed and is now scheduled for December 2018.

"If you don't clear out of here, I'll order that you be shot at", he said.

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United Nations observers documented at least 123 arrests across the country and a number of serious injuries, Marchal added.

Officers also detained 12 altar boys dressed in their liturgical robes outside one church as they led a protest march. He said the other two deaths occurred during an altercation and that the police had opened an investigation.

Opposition leader Vital Kamerhe told Reuters that security forces fired tear gas into the Paroisse Saint Michel during the mass he was attending. There was a large police and military presence around churches throughout the night.

All demonstrations and gatherings of more than five people were banned by Congo's authorities after Catholic activists called for protests outside churches after the Sunday mass.

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Democratic Republic of Congo's government on Saturday ordered telecommunications providers to cut internet and SMS services across the country ahead of planned anti-government demonstrations.

At the Notre-Dame of Congo Cathedral in Gombe, in north Kinshasa, security forces fired tear gas as opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi arrived, AFP news agency reported.

Some 40 per cent of Congo's population is Roman Catholic and the Church, which has mediated in the dispute with Kabila, enjoys some public credibility, even though its leadership has not formally backed the protests.

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