Democratic Republic of Congo authorities presented to reporters more than 100 people allegedly involved in a Feb. 27 attack on President Joseph Kabila’s residence and a military camp in Kinshasa, the capital.
The prisoners, trucked into a police station parking lot, sat beside an array of weapons allegedly used in the assault that left 11 attackers and eight soldiers dead, police spokesman Colonel Lole Onyondo said at a media briefing yesterday. Journalists weren’t allowed to speak to the people in custody. Several of those arrested protested their innocence, saying they were merchants who had been rounded up by the police. Onyondo wouldn’t answer questions after reading a statement.
The police showed more than two dozen machetes, 13 AK-47s, two machine guns and four rocket launchers allegedly used in the assaults. There were also two vehicles the attackers had allegedly carjacked, two screwdrivers and a caulking gun.
Congo’s second presidential election since the end of almost a decade of war is scheduled for November. Kabila, 39, became the Central African country’s leader in 2001 when his father, Laurent Desire Kabila, was assassinated. The younger Kabila led the country through a post-war transitional government from 2003 to 2006, when he was elected president.
Men armed with machetes, guns and amulets attacked Kabila’s residence on Feb. 27 and were repelled by the presidential guard during a 20-minute gunfight, Communications Minister Lambert Mende said March 1. Kabila wasn’t at home at the time, he said.
Later that day, another group approached a nearby military camp on motorcycles and in cars, shooting at the gates before fleeing, Mende said. Hours after the attacks, Mende appeared on national television and described the assaults as an attempted coup d’etat. Two days later, he said the men had made no political demands and it was not an attempted coup.
In total, 126 people have been held in connection with the attacks, which were allegedly committed by people from outside Kinshasa with help from supporters inside the city, according to Onyondo. He didn’t provide more details.
Congo’s security forces stopped the attackers from continuing on to other targets, including the airport and the national television station, Onyondo said.
Congo is Africa’s largest producer of tin ore and has about 4 percent of the world’s copper and a third of its cobalt resources.
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