Wednesday 20 September 2017

Attack frees prisoners in Kinshasa

Attack frees prisoners in Kinshasa
(AFP (eng) 07/14/17)
Burned vehicles outside the main prison in Kinshasa, Congo, on May 17, 2017.

Prisoners escaped in Kinshasa on Friday following an attack by unknown assailants on police holding cells and a government office, spreading panic in the city's nearby central market, witnesses and a police source said.

"There's panic because the administrator's office was attacked as well as the police cells. The prisoners have been freed," Marie-Pauline Liyolo, a vendor in the market, told AFP.

"There was an exchange of gunfire. The administrator of the market suffered bullet wounds. Everyone fled (the marketplace).... I don't know if there are any deaths," said another vendor Philippe Mbuinga.

"There is a bit of confusion, the cells were broken into," a police official at the market who requested anonymity told AFP, without giving further details.

An AFP correspondent near the scene said he saw scores of people running in all directions from the central market in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Police and officers of the military Republican Guard -- the specialised unit that protects the president -- have been deployed to the area.

A spokesman for Kinshasa police could not be immediately reached for comment.

Since May there have been several attacks on prisons and police stations.

On June 11 in the restive east of the country 930 inmates broke out of jail during clashes between government troops and militants near Beni in North-Kivu province. Authorities characterised the fighting as an attempt to free prisoners.

Violence has flared in DR Congo as the country is mired in a deep political crisis caused by President Joseph Kabila's refusal to step down when his mandate ended last December.

A brokered transitional deal has allowed him to remain in office until elections are held. But the electoral commission recently said elections could not take place by the end of this year as planned, sparking further protests from the opposition and other anti-government movements.

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