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Investigation to Follow Presidential Residence Attack

VOA News - February 27, 2011
Joseph Kabila

A top official of the Democratic Republic of Congo says his government is waiting for the judiciary to officially launch an investigation after assailants attacked President Joseph Kabila’s residence Sunday in the capital, Kinshasa.

Information minister Lambert Mende says President Kabila and his family were safe and unharmed during the attack that sparked a clash that killed at least seven people.

“The security forces, as well as the judiciary, are now ruling for an inquiry to identify those guys and to know their real motivation,” said Mende.

“We, the government, don’t know and we are not linked to the judiciary. They are working and they will tell us at the same moment that they will tell the public what happened. We are waiting (on) a statement from the prosecutor, maybe tomorrow (Monday) in the morning.”

Witnesses say presidential guards, backed by at least one tank, were patrolling the area after the attack.

Mende says presidential guards stopped the attackers at a roadblock and killed seven of them, while taking others prisoner. He also says one guard was severely injured in the fighting, which lasted about 20 minutes.

He said it was not clear whether the attack was a coup attempt, an act of terrorism, or something else. He said the attackers remain unidentified, but that officials are investigating.

Mende said his government will continue upholding its constitutional mandate to protect the lives of Congolese, despite Sunday’s attack.

“I was instructed by the president to reassure our people that the government, as well as the police and the army, are working very hard to protect the security of the population. Of course, we are used to such aggression and we know that our people have that experience already. But, we are working hard to discover what happened to those people (attackers), what was their motivation, who are their bosses and the judiciary will handle the file (from there),” said Mende.

“We can call them terrorists, but it is the prosecutors and the judges who will decide finally. But, since they have attacked the institutions, they have attacked the presidential security personnel and they brought a lot of fear; they terrorized the city; these are criminal offenses and they have to be sued for that.”

Audio: Lambert Mende on VOA's Daybreak Africa

Audio link (mp3)

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