KINSHASA (Reuters) - A child was shot dead by police during clashes between supporters of rival political camps in the Democratic Republic of Congo ahead of next month's election, the government and the United Nations said Saturday.
Police intervened after supporters of presidential challenger Etienne Tshisekedi clashed with a group loyal to incumbent Joseph Kabila Friday in the city of Mbuji-Mayi, a Tshisekedi stronghold in Kasai Orientale province.
"Police fired in the air and a young girl was hit, it's a real shame," General Charles Bisengimana, the chief of police, told Reuters by telephone. He did not give the girl's age.
Three others were injured in the violence and running clashes between rival camps continued into Saturday in the city in central Congo, according to Mounoubai Madnodje, spokesman for the U.N.'s peacekeeping mission in the country.
Government spokesman Lambert Mende accused the opposition of deliberately provoking the police but said the security forces needed to act "more professionally," adding that one policeman had been arrested following the death.
The offices of Tshisekedi's UDPS party in the capital Kinshasa were also attacked Saturday afternoon by armed men in jeeps, according to Jacquemain Shabani Lukoo, secretary general of the party.
Congo's November 28 presidential election will be the second since the country emerged from a brutal civil war that left millions dead, and experts have warned that the poll could spark off renewed violence.
Kabila is favorite to be re-elected despite losing considerable support over his failure to tackle corruption or bring total peace to the country, still haunted by rebel groups in its eastern jungles.
Tshisekedi, a veteran opposition politician, is seen as his closest rival, with strong support in the Kasai provinces and in the capital Kinshasa.
Congo's minerals riches have drawn billions of dollars in foreign investment, though developments has been held back by continued violence in parts of the country and worries over contract security.
(Reporting by Jonny Hogg; Editing by Richard Valdmanis)