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Six killed in failed coup attempt

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-02-28

Six men were killed in an attempted coup against Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila (pictured) on Sunday, after unidentified gunmen launched an attack on his residence in Kinshasa's Gombe area.

AFP - Unidentified gunmen attacked the residence of Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila Sunday but were beaten back by his guards who killed six assailants, a government spokesman said.

Lambert Mende called the raid, the first serious attack against Kabila since he became president in 2001, "an act of terrorism" and a possible "coup attempt".

Kabila was in the area at the time of the attack, launched at around 1:30 pm (12H30 GMT) on his home in the Gombe area of the capital Kinshasa where foreign embassies are also located, the official said.

"The residence of the president ... was attacked by a group of men who have still not been identified," he told AFP.

"Six assailants were killed, some were wounded and some others have been taken prisoner," he said, noting that some presidential guards were also hurt.

"The attackers were heavily armed. The president was in the area," he said.

"It was an act of terrorism. The aim was to sow fear. Some people say its was an attempted coup but there was no claim," he added.

Earlier Mende had said on state television that the incident was a "coup attempt".

An AFP journalist heard sporadic gunfire from the area which caused vendors outside the city's Grand Hotel, not far from the president's residence, to flee.

After the attack, soldiers from the president's republican guard patrolled outside the residence in small groups and took up positions at crossroads. Armoured vehicles and a tank patrolled the area.

Mende said the target -- Kabila's main residence -- did not sustain any damage.

He added that the assailants fled on motorcycles and in cars, opening fire on the entrance of a military camp in the Lingwala district south of Gombe.

Mende said he could not say whether the firing caused any casualties. But some reports said severakl people were killed in that incident.

Kabila in 2006 became the first democratically elected president of the vast country, which has been wracked by decades of turmoil but is rich in natural resources.

He was first appointed to the presidency when his father, Laurent Kabila, was assassinated by his bodyguards on January 18, 2001, in another presidential residence overlooking Kinshasa and war raged across the country.

Kinshasa politicians at the time looked to Kabila's son, then army chief but only 29, to take the helm.

The mandate of Kabila, now aged 39, expires this year and presidential elections have been set for November 27.

The third largest country in Africa, the DR Congo is wracked by violence in its east where various armed groups thrive and are accused of atrocities including rape against the local population.

Date created : 2011-02-28


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