Steve Mbikayi

Two students died this week after being shot during protests at a university in Democratic Republic of Congo, and a police officer has been arrested, the city’s police chief said on Friday.

The students “lost their lives following injuries caused by bullets” on Monday in capital Kinshasa, police chief General Sylvano Kasongo said in a statement.

The victims had attended a demonstration against a two-month strike by professors who demand that the head of the university be elected by peers.

Police cracked down on a further protest on Friday, student witnesses told AFP.

Kasongo urged the students to remain calm and said those responsible for the shootings would “answer for their acts according to the law.

“The police officer who fired Monday at one of the students who died has been detained and will face a military hearing,” he said.

Higher education minister Steve Mbikayi wrote on Twitter: “Live ammunition is outlawed on university sites. I demand an exemplary punishment for the police officers responsible for firing the fatal shots.”

He added that talks between professors and the government led to an agreement on Thursday concerning their dispute.

Professor Antoine Kitombole told AFP the faculty demanded enforcement of a law that allows them to elect the head of the university, “a measure that minister Mbikayi is blocking.”

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