25 December 2017

Congo-Kinshasa: Militants Torch Country Home of DR Congo President Kabila

Photo: Radio Okapi/Ph. John Bompengo

A home belonging to President Josef Kabila has been attacked and burned to the ground. It is the latest incident in a political crisis sparked by Kabila's refusal to step down after his mandate expired a year ago.

A country home belonging to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Joseph Kabila was burned to the ground and a police officer killed in the attack carried out overnight Sunday into Monday morning.

"We firmly condemn this barbarous act and call on the population ... to disassociate from any actions likely to compromise peace and development in this part of the country," lawmakers said in a statement on Monday.

The farmhouse was near the village of Musienene in North Kivu, about 1,680 miles (2,700 km) east of the capital Kinshasa, and a short distance from the Ugandan border.

Kabila was not at the house when the attack occurred, and it was not immediately clear who carried out the attack. Accusations have been leveled against the Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and "Mai-Mai" community-based militia groups.

"The residence of the head of state in Musienene has been targeted in an attack from 03:00 (01:00 GMT) and then burned by the Mai-Mai," one unnamed army official told AFP. "The attackers ransacked everything before setting the house and some vehicles on fire."

On Friday, nine soldiers were reported killed in two ambushes which the army blamed on Mai Mai rebels."The army recorded a loss of nine soldiers in two ambushes in the Baraka operational zone" in the South Kivu province, an unnamed military official told AFP.

The ADF has also been blamed for its part in a recent surge of attacks including the assault on a UN base in North Kivu that killed 15 Tanzanian peacekeepers and five Congolese soldiers earlier this month. Last week the armies of the DRC and neighboring Uganda launched a joint-military strike against the Congo-based ADF.

The DR Congo has been mired in a political crisis since Kabila refused to step down as president when his term expired a year ago.

A brutal civil war from 1998-2003 left millions of people dead, as much from hunger and disease as from fighting between armed groups that stalked Congo's mineral-rich eastern borderlands.

bik/jm (AFP, Reuters)

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