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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 March, 2004, 17:21 GMT 18:21 UK
Arrests after DR Congo 'coup bid'
Men detained in Kinshasa
Captives were presented to the press, but it is unclear who they are
The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo says it has arrested at least 15 men after a reported coup attempt in the capital, Kinshasa.

The men - some of whom were wounded - were paraded in front of reporters at a government news conference.

Border police have been put on high alert following attacks on military bases and a television station.

Some officials say members of the former guard of late dictator Mobutu Sese Seko are behind the attacks.

Two government soldiers were killed and several injured in the fighting, which broke out in various parts of Kinshasa early on Sunday.

Foreign hand?

"Rocket-propelled grenades were fired from the direction of the Palais de la Nation [Presidential Palace] in the direction of the president's house and fire returned," said UK Ambassador in Kinshasa Jim Atkinson.

He said the incident was an apparent coup attempt.

The government says armed groups simultaneously attacked two army posts, a naval base, and Ndolo military airport.

Shells also fell on densely populated parts of town, and a private television station came under attack.

There is no official word on who the attackers were.

However unnamed police officers quoted by AFP news agency said the attackers were former members of the personal guard of Mobutu - who was ousted in 1997.

One officer said some of the assailants came overnight from Brazzaville, the capital of the neighbouring Congo Republic across the Congo river.

After the shooting the attackers retreated to an area near the ferry landing point outside Kinshasa, they added.


More than 3,000 members of the former guard are currently housed in Brazzaville.

Weapons seized after the Kinshasa attacks
The authorities displayed a cache of arms and ammunition
However the information minister of the Congo Republic, Alain Akouala, told the BBC's Focus of Africa programme that none of the attackers had come from his country.

DR Congo Information Minister Vital Kamerhe told journalists a total 20 assailants had been arrested, and another 15 remained at large. Only 15 prisoners were paraded.

Weapons, including guns and grenades, have been seized, he added.

The BBC's Arnaud Zajtman in Kinshasa says the city is now calm and government soldiers have taken up position at strategic points - notably near the headquarters of the UN mission in Congo.

DR Congo - formerly known as Zaire - is emerging from five years of war in which it is thought more than three million people died.

President Joseph Kabila heads a power-sharing government under peace deals that ended the fighting in December 2002.

The BBC's Arnaud Zajtman
"The government says the situation is under control"


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