Republic of Congo Seeks Arrest of Former Ninjas Militia Leader

  • Pastor Ntumi denies involvement in gun battle in Brazzaville
  • Amnesty says helicopters destroyed Ntumi's former house

The Republic of Congo has issued an arrest warrant for a former rebel leader known as Pastor Ntumi, who’s being held responsible for a gun battle in the capital, Brazzaville, that killed 17 people earlier this month.

Ntumi, whose real name is Frederic Bintsamou, is wanted for assassination and illegal possession of weapons, according to a copy of the warrant signed by the nation’s prosecutor, Andre Gakala. Bintsamou has denied involvement in the attack.

Gunmen opened fire on police stations and military checkpoints in neighborhoods that are considered opposition strongholds in the early morning of April 4. The government blamed former militia members known as the Ninjas of orchestrating the attack. The Ninjas were active in the 1997-1999 civil war and a 2002 insurgency in the southern Pool region.

Eyewitnesses told Amnesty International that shortly after the violence in Brazzaville attack helicopters destroyed a house in Pool where Bintsamou used to live, according to a statement on the website of the London-based rights group last week. Schools and churches were damaged in the raid and an unidentified number of people were killed.

The oil-producing nation held elections last month that were won by President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who has ruled for 18 consecutive years following the civil war. His candidacy was contested by the opposition, which led protests against a referendum last year that allowed Sassou Nguesso to change the constitution and run again.

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