Residents in Kiwanja (North Kivu province) blocked major roads in the town with burning tyres and barricades on Thursday, May 16, to denounce an increase in criminal attacks - notably kidnapping cases - in the area. Police forces responded with tear gas and warning shots. At least one person was killed, and several others injured. All business activities are reportedly at standstill in the town as of noon (local time). Though an increased number of security forces has been deployed in the town, further similar incidents and related protests are possible in the coming days and weeks.
The government's limited presence in the DRC's eastern provinces, including North Kivu, as well as the presence of numerous armed groups and local self-defense militias (Maï-Maï militias) have led to continued insecurity in the area. At least 30 farmers have been kidnapped in the province since early May. Humanitarian organizations have stated that security conditions in the Kivu regions present a major obstacle to delivering humanitarian assistance to those in need, as kidnappings, including of Congolese and foreign aid workers, are frequent in the area.
Individuals in North Kivu province, notably in Kiwanja, are advised to monitor developments to the situation, remain vigilant for criminal activity, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
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