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Thursday, 10 October, 2002, 17:24 GMT 18:24 UK
Six die in Congo violence
Madibou burnt police station
Attacks have resumed after years of respite

The Armed Forces in Congo Brazzaville have denied that the military was involved in an attack on a suburb of the capital on Monday night.

Six people were killed in the attack which the authorities have blamed on so-called Ninja Rebels, a resurgent militia who the government says is behind a recent offensive in the Pool Region.

He tried to run but he ran into the military and they shot him dead

Eyewitness
The statement comes after an eyewitness told the BBC that soldiers in uniform had attacked the suburb of Madibou, burning down the local police station, looting houses and leaving six civilians dead.

A spokesman for the FAC, Colonel Obargui, said that the inhabitants of Madibou were reluctant to admit it was the Ninjas who had carried out the attack because, he said, the Ninjas in question came from the village itself.

"If it had been the work of the army," Colonel Obargui said, "they would not have burnt down the police station."

The colonel also noted that witnesses said the attackers spoke in Lari, a local language commonly used by the Ninjas.

Investigation

However, Colonel Obargui conceded that members of the military may have been responsible for a second round of looting which took place on Tuesday night, when the army was stationed in Madibou to ensure peace.

He said those responsible would be punished.

The mayor of Brazzaville has announced an investigation into Monday's events.

Many of Madibou's residents fled the neighbourhood during the attack, leaving their homes to be looted.

A woman who was caught in the thick of the attack told the BBC that it was the army, not the Ninjas, who had looted and murdered in Madibou.

'Good haircuts'

She said the men were bare-chested, had blue hats and wore military uniform, not civilian clothes. There were no Ninjas, she said.

"If there had been one or two Ninjas, I would have noticed," she said. "The Ninjas have dreadlocks but these men had good haircuts."

Madibou residents outside the Mauritanian victim's burnt shop
Many people were killed or displaced during the last war

"There were lots of military, more than 100. They shot into the crowd, they even shot at the young and the old."

She said the army demanded money from the Mauritanian shopkeeper but he did not understand.

"They took out a razor blade and cut his face. He cried.

"He tried to run but he ran into the military and they shot him dead," the eyewitness said.

This latest attack is a blow to President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, who is keen to show that Congo Brazzaville has emerged from a decade of civil wars into a state of peace and stability, in order to attract much needed foreign investment to rebuild the country.

See also:

30 May 02 | Africa
27 May 02 | Africa
16 May 02 | Africa
27 Mar 02 | Country profiles
22 Feb 02 | Africa
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