Kinshasa — AT least seven activists have been killed, scores injured and over 100 arrested after anti-government protests in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The bloodshed follows national security forces responding brutally to demonstrations against beleaguered President Joseph Kabila in the capital Kinshasa and several cities in the country of over 80 million people.
Kabila, whose home in the eastern Kivuwas recently burnt down by militia, is clinging to power despite his term expiring at the end of 2016.
Trigger-happy security forces are notorious for using live ammunition against critics demanding the resignation of the strongman who assumed power after his father Laurent was assassinated in 2001.
António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, expressed concern about the outcome of the New Year protests.
"The secretary general calls on the government and national security forces to exercise restraint and to uphold the rights of the Congolese people to the freedom of speech and peaceful assembly," Guterres' spokesperson said.
He urged all Congolese political actors to remain committed to the December 2016 political agreement paving way for elections possibly before the end of this year.
Banditry has spiked despite the roadmap.
Last month, armed groups ambushed and killed 14 UN soldiers and five Congolese soldiers northeast of the Central African country.
Over 4 million people are displaced by the violence.