Two journalists wounded after Congo police open fire on protest

BUKAVU, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) - Two journalists were wounded when police opened fire on a protest outside the provincial parliament in Democratic Republic of Congo's eastern city of Bukavu on Thursday, local media and a Reuters reporter at the scene said.

Police fired tear gas and live ammunition into a crowd of pro-government demonstrators and journalists, the Reuters reporter said, after 27 of 48 local lawmakers voted to dismiss South Kivu province's administration.

Jérémie Zirumana, a spokesperson for South Kivu province's government, dismissed the assembly's vote as invalid, calling it organised cheating and political gangsterism.

In the post-vote melee, journalists Crispin Murhula and Jérémie Baraka were both wounded in the leg, Murhula's colleague told Reuters and Baraka said on social media.

The police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Moise Chubaka, Murhula's editor at television station EKA, said the journalists were shot as they tried to enter the plenary hall.

"They started shooting at us, and now I'm wounded, I've been shot and I'm in hospital," said Baraka, a reporter for online media platform Kivu Avenir, in a video posted on Twitter.

President Felix Tshisekedi pledged to improve Congo's media environment when he came to power in 2019, but journalists continue to face detention and physical attacks, according to the U.S. democracy watchdog group Freedom House.

"Professional journalists are not linked to political events and should not be involved in any way in this kind of political warfare," the National Union of Congolese Press said in a statement.

(Reporting by Crispin Kyalangalilwa; Writing by Hereward Holland; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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