Gunmen launch deadly raid on airport depot in DR Congo

democratic republic of congo mapAt least one soldier and a gunman were killed overnight when a gang raided the Goma airport in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo during an apparent robbery, officials said Tuesday.

“Bandits got inside the airport area to try to steal from depots (storing goods) waiting to be loaded on to cargo planes,” the governor of the restless North Kivu province, Julien Paluku, told AFP.

“Maybe they were also targeting the ammunition depots,” he said, adding that the intruders were wearing civilian clothes. “Fortunately the army was there.”

One of the attackers was killed and three others were captured, while a soldier was slain and several others were wounded, the governor said. The army recovered two assault rifles.

Captain Guillaume Djike, an army spokesman based in Goma, the capital of North Kivu, said the identity of the raiders “is not yet known,” but they had Kalashnikovs and machetes and “encountered fierce resistance” from government troops.

Many rebel forces and other armed groups are active in the eastern Kivu provinces of the vast central African nation.

One assailant was killed and one captured, Djike said, but he refused to give details of any potential victims in the military. However, a resident of the Murara district next to the airport told AFP that he saw the bodies of two Republican Guard soldiers lying on the ground.

An officer in the Republican Guard, asking not to be named, said that no fewer than “four soldiers were killed during the night at Goma airport… during an attack by armed men.”

The Republican Guard, which is responsible for protecting President Joseph Kabila, is deployed at strategic points in the country and shares guard duties at Goma airport with troops of the regular Armed Forces of the DR Congo.

Paluku said soldiers chased the intruders into Goma town in heavy rain, waking and scaring inhabitants with sustained gunfire.

“It wasn’t a large-scale attack, but they managed to infiltrate the airport and that’s a bit worrying,” the governor said, adding that efforts would be made “to save the lives (of captured attackers )… to understand where they came from and who sent them.”

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