DR Congo: Several People Killed in Kananga Fighting

The fighting on Thursday and Friday last week pitted supporters of a local tribal chief against government forces.

There are conflicting figures on the death toll in the fighting that erupted in the city of Kananga in central Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday, September 22 and Friday, September 23, 2016.

The death toll given by the AFP news agency talked of at least 10 people killed. A Western military source reportedly put the number of deaths at between 10 and 20. « We have recorded seven military dead and 40 dead among the attackers, » an aide to the governor of Kasai-Central province, of which Kananga is the capital is quoted as having said on condition of anonymity.

News agency reports say the violence erupted when supporters of the tribal chief, Kamwena Nsapu, who was said to be killed in August by the military, attacked the Kananga airport. News 24 press agency cited two journalists and an NGO official, reached by phone from the national capital Kinshasa who said that the rebels had taken the airport and were surrounded by troops. Reports say Nsapu, from the Luba ethnic group, had returned to the Democratic Republic of Congo in April after living for a while in South Africa, and began opposing the central government and its representatives.

Government’s spokesman Lambert Mende  is quoted by News 24 as saying that, « There was a bust-up in Kananga but calm returned in the late afternoon. »  He is further cited as saying that government was holding a meeting to assess the situation. Mr Mende said a female flight attendant with the national airline, Congo Airways, was among the dead.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is becoming more and more restive. The fighting in Kananga came on the heels of rioting and protests with the aim of compelling President Joseph Kabila to leave at the end of his presidential term towards the end of this year. The protests on Monday and Tuesday last week in the capital Kinshasa claimed at least 50 lives.

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