Home>News Center>World

Explosions rock Kinshasa after apparent coup bid
Updated: 2004-06-11 15:23

Explosions and artillery fire echoed across the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo early on Friday after renegade presidential guards briefly seized state radio, residents in the city said.

"I heard four explosions and then sometime later a larger fifth explosion. It was very clear," one resident in the city center said.

Others reported hearing sporadic bursts of automatic gunfire at around 1:30 a.m. EDT. The streets were deserted apart from heavily armed troops.

The British ambassador said he had heard artillery fire coming from camp Tshatshi, the biggest military base in Kinshasa, situated on the outskirts of the city on the banks of the Congo river.

"I can hear cannon fire coming from camp Tshatshi," Ambassador Jim Atkinson told Reuters.

Members of the elite unit which guards President Joseph Kabila earlier seized state radio in an apparent coup bid, but the government said loyal troops had regained control of the station soon afterwards.

The presidential guards' Major Eric Lenge said on the radio the country's transitional process was not working and that he was suspending it and taking control himself, U.N. and government officials said.


A power outage plunged Kinshasa into darkness after he spoke.

"Some officers in the presidential guard took control of the state radio at 2:30 this morning (9:30 p.m. EDT Thursday), but loyalist soldiers retook control two and a half hours later," government spokesman Vital Kamerhe said.

He did not specify if there had been a battle for the radio station and said it was unclear how many guards were involved.

A presidential spokesman said Kabila was safe.

"The president is in Kinshasa and he is in control," spokesman Kudura Kasongo said, adding that Lenge had "tried to destabilize the government."

The incident comes days after government troops recaptured the eastern town of Bukavu from dissident soldiers following a week-long occupation launched in protest at what the dissidents said was the persecution of their ethnic group.

The revolt in Bukavu exposed the weakness of Kabila's transitional government installed a year ago, which is still struggling to restore central authority across Africa's third-largest country after five years of war.

The clashes in the mineral-rich east also raised fears of a wider regional conflict involving Congo and its tiny neighbor Rwanda, which invaded the former Zaire in 1996 and 1998.

Gunmen attacked four military bases and two television stations in Kinshasa in March in an apparent coup attempt -- the first political violence in the city for five years. Kabila's office blamed members of the personal guard of late dictator Mobutu Sese Seko for those attacks.

  Today's Top News     Top World News

China vows more strikes against terrorism



Japan sending chemists to analyze bombs



China's panda population up 40%



Industries cool down growth



Bush: New NATO troops in Iraq not likely



Tens of thousands mourn Reagan in DC


  Explosions rock Kinshasa after apparent coup bid
  Blair's party loses support in election
  Ten million kids trapped slave-like conditions
  Israel offers cash advances to settlers
  Putin takes Bush's side against Democrats on Iraq
  Jordan's Queen Rania gets military rank
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  News Talk  
  Does the approval of UN resolution on Iraq end daily bloodshed there?