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Rampaging soldiers kill nine civilians in northwestern town of Mbandaka

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KINSHASA, 4 Jul 2005 (IRIN) - Nine people were killed on Sunday when about 100 soldiers went on the rampage to avenge the death of a comrade in Mbandaka, the largest town in Equateur province in the northwest of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a UN spokesman in the country said.

"The Congolese Red Cross Society recorded nine dead," said Kemal Saiki, the official spokesman of the UN peacekeeping force in Congo, known as MONUC.

The killings took place after the soldiers broke into the armoury of their camp at Bokala, four kilometres from the centre of Mbandaka, to avenge the death of a comrade, who had been murdered by unidentified assailants, Yves Mobando Yogo, the Governor of Equateur province said.

"They came out of their camps and set up road blocks at the entrance to the town where they began looting from people," he added.

Speaking after visiting the main hospital in Mbandaka, the Governor said just one person had died in the shooting, an elderly woman who had been hit by a stray bullet. Twelve other people had been wounded by stray bullets in the disturbances, he added.

The Red Cross, quoted by MONUC as reporting nine deaths in Mbandaka, said it had submitted its own casualty figures to the Ministry of the Interior. It declined to reveal them directly to reporters.

Mobando said calm had returned to Mbandaka, 600 km upstream on the Congo river from the capital Kinshasa, following the establishment of mixed army and police patrols in the town on Sunday night.

"We have neutralised the leaders and confined the mutinous soldiers to barracks," he said.

The UN spokesman said those who caused the trouble were former militiamen of the Armed Forces of the Congolese People (FAPC), an armed faction from the country's troubled Ituri district in northeastern DRC.

They were part of 2,000 troops from different armed factions in DRC who had been stationed in Bokala for integration into the national army.


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