KINSHASA (Reuters) – A police officer in Congo’s capital Kinshasa was beaten to death and 46 others were wounded as rival Muslim groups clashed during Eid celebrations on Thursday, a police spokesman said.
Members of two opposing camps vying for leadership positions in Congo’s Muslim community sparred outside Kinshasa’s Martyrs Stadium Thursday morning, where they had planned to worship together as a demonstration of unity.
“Unfortunately, there were extremists who didn’t want the two groups to pray together today,” said Sylvano Kasongo, who heads the Kinshasa police.
Officers fired tear gas and warning shots to disperse the crowd. Rioters threw stones and destroyed a police cruiser.
Videos on social media showed a police officer being beaten over the head with blunt objects until he fell to the ground, after which his body was set on fire. Reuters was not able to immediately verify the contents of the video.
Kasongo confirmed that one officer had died after being set on fire, and that 46 other people were injured.
Elsewhere in Kinshasa, a crowd marched on the home of a leader of a rival camp and set fire to several vehicles before being repelled by police.
Following the events in the capital, Eid celebrations in the eastern city of Goma were cancelled as a precautionary measure.
Congo has a relatively small Islamic community, with less than 5% of the country’s 90 million people believed to identify as Muslims.
(Reporting by Hereward Holland, Djaffar Al Katanty, and Erikas Mwisi Kambale; Writing by Cooper Inveen; Editing by Aaron Ross and Bernadette Baum)