Congo Republic Blames Militia for 17 Deaths in Attacks

  • Police stations, local government buildings burnt down Monday
  • Opposition says attack was `set-up' to suppress protests

The Republic of Congo said at least 17 people died as gunmen opened fire on police stations and checkpoints earlier this week in the capital, Brazzaville, accusing former militia members of orchestrating the attack.

Six police stations as well as a local government building burnt down on Monday in what the government considers a “terrorist attack,” government spokesman Thierry Moungalla said in an address on Tele Congo late Tuesday. More than 50 former militia members have been interrogated because the intelligence services have evidence that an ex-militia chief known as Pastor Ntumi was involved, he said.

Pastor Ntumi told Voice of America on Monday he wasn’t involved in the assault, which forced residents to flee their homes in several southern neighborhoods of the capital.

The incident should be investigated because it might be a set-up to suppress potential protests against the outcome of last month’s presidential election, opposition leader Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas told reporters Wednesday in Brazzaville.

“Gunfire was heard but there aren’t any bullet holes in the police stations that were attacked,” Kolelas said. “It’s not clear what’s real and what’s not.”

The oil-producing Central African nation held elections last month that were won by President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who has ruled for 18 consecutive years following a 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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