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Thursday, 16 August, 2001, 10:33 GMT 11:33 UK
Children riot in Kinshasa
Kinshasa's central market
Tense scenes at Kinshasa's central market
Dozens of street children are reported to have been arrested in a police swoop in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, after a policeman shot dead a boy he saw stealing.

Witnesses said that, when the boy was caught in Kinshasa's central market, he threw boiling water at a police officer from a cooking pot and tried to run away.

The policeman then pulled out his gun and shot the boy.

Dozens of angry street children then retaliated attacking a small police station in the market and causing panic among traders.

Information Minister Kikaya Bin Karubi said the children wounded one policeman in the mayhem.

Looting

Police fired tear gas to disperse the children, but witnesses said that in the 30 minutes it took to restore order, many Congolese traders lost large amounts of stock to looters.

It is unclear if any of the children have been hurt.

"At least 78 children have been arrested," said Amigo Gonde, of the Kinshasa-based African Association for the Defence of Human Rights.

"Knowing the way the police operate here, they will be badly-treated for sure," he said.

Much of Kinshasa's state infrastructure has collapsed in the past decade and many residents struggle to make a living.

The UN Children's Fund says about 15,000 children live on the streets of Kinshasa alone, victims of poverty, corruption, Aids and fighting.

See also:

16 Aug 01 | Africa
Kinshasa's forgotten children
06 Aug 01 | Africa
Kinshasa's grave concerns
30 Jul 01 | Africa
Kinshasa rally broken up
20 Apr 01 | Africa
Congo rebels allow UN to deploy
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