Congo-Kinshasa: 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 Monday, killing close to 40 attackers and capturing several more.

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

Mende described the attackers as “terrorists” but said they have not yet been identified, and that the attacks appeared to have no purpose except to disrupt this week’s New Year’s celebrations. He urged residents to go about their business normally rather than give in to the threat.

However, a VOA reporter based in Kinshasa said sporadic gunfire continued at mid-day and most residents were remaining in their homes. The reporter said soldiers and police were maintaining checkpoints throughout the city.

Mende said about 30 gunmen were involved in the attack on the radio and television center, where transmission was temporarily shut down. Reuters news agency said two gunmen appeared on television before the shutdown to deliver a message critical of President Joseph Kabila.

Mende said 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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