Congo Republic Deploys Troops in Capital After Heavy Gunfire

  • Government spokesman says security forces are restoring order
  • Militias accused of torching police stations in Brazzaville

Soldiers patrolled the streets of the Republic of Congo’s capital, Brazzaville, after heavy gunfire erupted early in the morning in the south of the city in what the government said was an attack by former militias.

Gunmen attacked police stations and military checkpoints in four southern neighborhoods of Brazzaville at about 3 a.m. Monday, forcing residents to flee their homes, Communications Minister Thierry Moungalla said in an address on state-run Tele Congo. Security forces were restoring order and the situation was under control, he said.

The violence comes less than a month after a presidential election that was won by President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who begins a third consecutive term after ruling for more than 18 years. Sassou Nguesso got more than 60 percent of the votes in the first round, an outcome that was rejected by five opposition candidates whom Moungalla referred to in his speech by saying they had called for an insurgency.

“The government doesn’t have evidence yet that candidates or their supporters are involved,” Moungalla said. “But the government would like to stress that investigations are underway.”

Authorities blocked all phone and Internet communications on election day and the day after, when votes were counted, for what the government said were security reasons.

The U.S. Embassy recommended earlier Monday its citizens stay indoors, saying on its Facebook page it had canceled routine consular services “in light of the ongoing threat.”

Sassou Nguesso also led the country from 1979 to 1992 and then returned to power at the end of a civil war in 1997.

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