At least five people have been killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as security forces fired live rounds and tear gas to disperse demonstrators

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At least five people have been killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to the UN, as authorities cracked down on banned protests against President Joseph Kabila.

Witnesses told news agencies that security forces fired live rounds and tear gas in the capital, Kinshasa, to disperse demonstrators demanding an end to Kabila’s 17-year rule.

The Catholic church had called for rallies around the country, despite a government ban on all demonstrations since September 2016, when anti-Kabila protests turned violent.

MONUSCO, the UN peacekeeping mission, said at least five people were killed in Kinshasa and 33 others injured nationwide. Dozens of people were also reportedly arrested.

In office since 2001, Kabila’s constitutional term ended in December 2016, but he stayed on.

Under an agreement brokered by the Catholic Church, he was allowed to stay in office, provided new elections were held in 2017.

The flare-up in violence has stoked fears that the vast, mineral-rich DRC could slide back into the wars that killed millions in the 1990s, mostly from hunger and disease.