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Congo Flies Copper Province Rebels to Military Court

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March 25 (Bloomberg) -- The Democratic Republic of Congo’s government flew 247 separatist rebels from the southern copper-rich province of Katanga to the capital, Kinshasa, to face military court after a clash in which 35 people died on March 23.

The members of Kata Katanga militia attacked Katanga’s’ capital, Lubumbashi, and fought with the army and police before forcing their way into a United Nations compound and surrendering.

The government is addressing the ongoing problems with Kata Katanga and several other militia groups in the province, Media Minister Lambert Mende said in an interview today without giving details. “There is security in Katanga,” he said.

Lubumbashi is a hub for the operations of many of the biggest mining companies operating in Congo, including Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. and Glencore International Plc. The Central African nation produces more than 3 percent of the world’s copper and half its cobalt, most of which comes from Katanga.

Attacks by local militia, known as Mai Mai, have displaced more than 300,000 people north of Lubumbashi in Central Katanga since 2011, according to the UN.

Mende said that speculation of further attacks circulating in the city today is false.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael J. Kavanagh in Kinshasa on Mkavanagh9@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin in Johannesburg at asguazzin@bloomberg.net.