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Congo gov't blames militia for Brazzaville attack

Congo gov't blames militia for Brazzaville attack

Republic of the Congo

Former members of a militia that fought Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso in a 1997 civil war attacked and set alight military, police and local government offices on Monday, government spokesman Thierry Moungalla said.

The assault by former “Ninja” militiamen, once loyal to the father of a losing candidate in last month’s presidential election, has been contained and the government is investigating possible links with opposition candidates, Moungalla said.

About two hours of gunfire exchanges were heard in the early hours of Monday in three districts of Congo’s capital hours after a national peace and unity concert in Brazzaville.

Congo’s military was reported to have fought back the militia with gunfire exchanges through three districts including Makelekele, Kinsoundi and Bacongo. Helicopters were reported to be hovering over the city.

According to AFP reports, several people have fled the combat zone by late morning after witnessing the heavy gunfire which started in the districts of Mayanga and Makélékélé between 2:00 and 3:00 (0100 and 0200 GMT) and lasted almost continuously until about 6:00am.

Meanwhile, France has expressed worry about the violence calling for “restraint” and the safety of its citizens.

“We are concerned about the violent events that took place in the night in certain neighborhoods of Brazzaville. Our embassy immediately addressed the safety instructions and calls for caution to our citizens who we are inviting to stay at home. The French school is closed today,” the spokesman of the Foreign Ministry, Romain Nadal, said calling for “restraint”.

The Ninja militia was formed by the politician, Bernard Kolélas in the early 1990s and were commanded by Frédéric Bintsangou, alias Pastor Ntoumi when Kolelas was in exile. They participated in many wars in the 1990s and 2000s.