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DRC: 103 Died in Monday's Attacks

  • Anne Look

Congolese soldiers in their truck toward the state television headquarters in the capital Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dec. 30, 2013.
The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo says 103 people were killed Monday when its forces repelled attacks in Kinshasa and at least two other towns. Eight soldiers were among those killed in the fighting, which appears to have been led by followers of evangelical Christian pastor Joseph Mukungubila, a self-proclaimed prophet who is an outspoken opponent to the government.

DRC government spokesman Lambert Mende said security forces had captured more than 150 attackers. He said these young people had been sent on "suicide missions" by what he referred to as a "sort of guru." But he did not name that person.

Mende said several justifications have been put forth to explain Monday's violence, and that they are political in nature. He said it is hard to link them with any "plan of God," and difficult to see how one individual could have the right to wreak havoc in society because he is upset about a nomination to some post. Mende said political and judicial means exist for addressing these kinds of grievances.

On Monday, young men who briefly captured the state TV station went on the air and identified themselves as followers of Mukungubila.

Sites under armed attack in Kinshasa, DRC
Sites under armed attack in Kinshasa, DRC
The station was one of three locations that were attacked in the capital city.

A press release from "the Office of the Prophet" posted to Facebook and released by the pastor's Twitter account said the attacks were a spontaneous uprising by his followers in several parts of the country. The statement says the uprising was a response to security forces that had stopped young followers from distributing leaflets the day before, and then attacked the pastor's home in the southeastern town of Lubumbashi.

The web site for Mukungubila's ministry, called the Ministry of Restoration From Black Africa , dubs him the "Prophet of the Eternal."

A series of YouTube videos that profile Mukungubila bill him as "marrying the priesthood and politics."

Mukungubila ran for president in 2006, but won less than one percent of the vote. He has since been a minor, if vocal, political figure, frequently and vehemently criticizing President Joseph Kabila and the neighboring country of Rwanda.

Mukungubila has confirmed to several international media outlets that his followers took part in Monday's attacks. It remains unclear, however, if he had any role in coordinating the violence or if his followers acted on their own.

Jean Noel Ba-Mweze contributed reporting from Kinshasa.