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Government forces ‘regain control’ of DR Congo capital

© Photo: AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-12-30

Government troops have regained control of several buildings, including the airport and state TV headquarters, in the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa after an assault by armed men on Monday, officials said.

"More than 70 attackers were killed, including around 50 in Kinshasa," government spokesman Lambert Mende told AFP.

"Three of our own were killed in Kinshasa and two civilians were injured," Mende added.

In the latest wave of violence to hit the troubled African nation, armed men had earlier taken over the country’s state broadcaster RTNC, reportedly taking several reporters hostage.

Police spokesman Colonel Mwana Mputu said youths had used guns and machetes to attack the broadcaster’s offices.

“They have taken reporters hostage. An operation is under way to dislodge them," he told the AFP news agency.

Witnesses earlier reported heavy gunfire coming from the station’s offices. Shortly after, state radio and television channels went off the air, Reuters reported.

Before the station’s television feed was cut, two gunmen appeared on camera to deliver what appeared to be a political message against President Joseph Kabila on behalf of Paul Joseph Mukungubila, a religious leader who ran unsuccessfully for the presidency in 2006.

“Gideon Mukungubila has come to free you from the slavery of the Rwandan,” said the message, according to a Reuters reporter who saw a tape of the transmission. Gideon is the nickname used for Mukungubila by his followers.

'Panic in the city’

Mukungubila, who calls himself ‘The prophet of the Eternal’, has been an outspoken critic of a peace deal signed this month with the Tutsi-led M23 rebel group in eastern Congo, accusing Kabila’s government of bowing to Tutsi interests and pressure from neighbouring Rwanda.

“The attackers presented themselves as supporters of Mukungubila. We are checking because this could be an attempt to fool us,” DR Congo Information Minister Lambert Mende told Reuters.

A local resident told AFP he had seen police and military officers deploy around the RTNC building and the nearby Congolese parliament building.

"There's panic in the city, people are asking what is happening," he said.

Heavy gunfire also broke out at Kinshasa’s international airport at around the same time, a customs official told Reuters.

"Shooting has started here," the official said. "They are shooting everywhere. We are all hiding."

Witnesses also reported shooting at the Tshatshi military camp in the city, close to the Defence Ministry.

Despite the peace-deal with the M23 rebel group which ended an 18-month insurgency, DR Congo’s government is struggling to maintain security with a number of rebel groups still operating in the country.

Last week, at least 40 civilians were killed in a rebel attack on an eastern village by the ADF-NALU rebel group -- a Ugandan opposition group driven out of the country in the mid-2000s but still active in DR Congo.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

Date created : 2013-12-30

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