The file photo shows policemen during a protest in the Congolese capital Kinshasa. (Photo by AFP)
Students and police have clashed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
amid protests over a rise in tuition fees.
Reports on Wednesday said five students were shot and seriously wounded and 18 others sustained injuries in clashes with police officers in the capital Kinshasa, where students were protesting
against altered exchange rates affecting their fee payments.
“We received 23 injured students of whom five had serious gunshot wounds and were transferred to the Kokolo military hospital,” said a doctor at the Institute of Higher Education in Applied Technology (ISTA), where the clashes erupted.
Witnesses said seven students, including a woman, were under observation at ISTA’s medical center.
The clashes erupted after police fired tear gas at classrooms. Reports said about 100 police officers had surrounded the university. The operation came after students burned two vehicles and attacked some nearby storefronts.
“The police were called to re-establish order, disturbed by the students,” said an officer in charge of the operation.
Patrick Makonzo, the vice president of ISTA’s student union, said the protesters condemned academic authorities’ application of the increased exchange rate, which he said would cost the students a real-terms increase of about 16 percent.
Officials defended the move, with ISTA director general Kasengedia Mutumbe saying, “In the interests of social harmony at ISTA, we have decided to revise the exchange rate (back).”