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Congo's Army Repels Attacks In Kinshasa, Dozens Killed

posted 30 Dec 2013, 08:12 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 30 Dec 2013, 08:13 ]

Dozens are killed when gunmen in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, attack a military camp, the airport, and state TV headquarters. The Information minister says the situation is under control.

KINSHASA, DR CONGO (DECEMBER 30, 2013) (REUTERS) -  Congolese soldiers repulsed attacks on the airport, a barracks and the state television headquarters in Kinshasa on Monday (December 30) in what authorities said appeared to have been an assault by followers of religious leader Paul Joseph Mukungubila.

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Before transmission was shut down at the state television, gunmen shouted what appeared to be a political message against President Joseph Kabila, who took office in 2001 after the assassination of his father Laurent.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende said 40 of the 70 assailants in the capital had been killed.

Kabila's supporters said the assault was carried out by poorly organised youths in civilian clothing with aged military equipment and appeared to be more of a political statement than a serious attempt to seize power in a city of more than 9 million people.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, a vast country at the heart of Africa, is struggling to emerge from decades of violence and instability, particularly in its mineral-rich east, in which millions of people have died, mostly from hunger and disease. The country is home to a 21,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO).

Shortly after the clashes in KinshasaCongo's army exchanged heavy fire with Mukungubila's followers in the mining province of Katanga, more than 1,500 miles (2,400 km) to the southeast near the border with Zambia.

Witnesses said the fighting erupted after soldiers attacked Mukungubila's church in the regional capital Lubumbashi, but calm was quickly restored.

Political tension has risen in Kinshasa amid speculation that Kabila may try to change the constitution and run for a third term in 2016 against a fragmented opposition. The defeat of M23, the country's most important rebel group, strengthened his grip on power.