World News

DRC Government Proclaims Victory Over Armed Attackers

Officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo say government troops have beaten back armed attacks at three locations around the capital, killing close to 40 attackers and capturing several more.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende says scores of gunmen attacked the international airport, state television station and army headquarters in Kinshasa. He says several attackers were killed at each of the three locations.

Mende describes the attackers as "terrorists" but says they have not yet been identified. He says the attacks appeared to have no purpose except to disrupt this week's New Year's celebrations.

"The government calls on the people of Kinshasa, victims of this terrorist aggression - since we do not have the impression that the assailants had any other objective, so few in numbers, armed so poorly, .. to want to achieve anything other than to sow panic and terror on the eve of the new year festivities which have such a great importance in our culture."

He urged residents to go about their business normally rather than give in to the threat.

A VOA reporter in Kinshasa says sporadic gunfire continued at mid-day and most residents were remaining in their homes. The reporter says soldiers and police are maintaining checkpoints throughout the city.

Mende says about 30 gunmen were involved in the attack on the radio and television center, where transmission was temporarily shut down.

Viewers say two of the gunmen appeared on television before the shutdown to deliver a message critical of President Joseph Kabila. The message said an evangelical Christian leader known as Gideon Mukungubila had come to free the Congolese people from the slavery imposed on them by "the Rwandan."

"The Rwandan" is sometimes used as a nickname for Mr. Kabila, who comes from eastern Congo near Rwanda. His father, Laurent Kabila, led a militia in the region before seizing power in Kinshasa in a 1997 coup.

The younger Mr. Kabila was returned to power in 2011 elections in which Mukungubila was a candidate.

Mende says about 20 gunmen were involved in the attack on the airport and that 10 of them were killed. A similar number attacked the international airport in nearby N'Djili.

The U.S. embassy in Kinshasa advised U.S. citizens to avoid areas where crowds have gathered. It said there were reports the international airport was closed.

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