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Congolese authorities crack down on delinquent 'bébés noirs' gang

Republic of the Congo

The state prosecutor of Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo has launched a full blown campaign to crack down on a gang of delinquents popularly known as ‘bébés noirs’ who operate in the parts of the Congolese capital.

The gang, made up of youngsters usually between 13 and 30 years, are often engaged in drug abuse, are armed with weapons and terrorize residents.

But their days appear to be numbered as the state prosecutor André Ngakala Oko has branded them a terror group which must not be allowed to continue operating.

“The ‘bébés noirs’ are terrorists. I say it again that they are nothing more than terrorists. They kill, they loot and they rape women,” Ngakala Oko said.

The operation has also proven successful with security personnel rounding up a number of suspected gang members much to the delight of residents.

A Brazzaville resident, Jean-Denis Tati told Africanews’ correspondent that the operation is a good one. “We have to eliminate these people. They should be destroyed. They must not be allowed to harm our people,” he added.

Civil society actors however say authorities need to go a step further with the operation by developing a reintegration program for those arrested to make the program more effective.

“We need to set up reception centers for these young people. When they have spent two years at these centers, they can then be reintegrated into society. Without these centers, it will be an exercise in futility,” said Bienvenu Parfait Matsala a member of the Congolese civil society.

Witnesses say closed corners in hard to reach areas with poor or no street light, serve as fertile operating grounds for the gang.

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